Woods and Waters An outdoor blog by John McCoy

Throwing the baby out with the bathwater

Scimitar-horned oryx in Texas

If animal-rights activists are trying to prevent Texas ranchers from game-farming exotic African and Asian wildlife species.

The activists believe it’s immoral to raise large numbers of the animals, allow hunters to shoot a few of them and ship the rest to their native countries to be released back the wild. To be fair, I’m sure they don’t mind the raising and releasing part. They just don’t want anyone hunting them.

The fate of a highly successful wildlife conservation program hangs in the balance. The major media, predictably enough, are lining up and taking sides. CBS News’ 60 Minutes ran a piece that gave the animal-rights side a national voice. The Wall Street Journal, calling the ranchers “enviropreneurs,” took the opposite tack.

One of Outdoor Life’s bloggers put the issue in perspective, outlining how the antis got a law passed that requires an almost impossible-to-obtain federal permit to hunt one of those species, the scimitar oryx. The blogger explains quite succinctly how the new law might ultimately lead to the species’ extinction.

I’m not a fan of high-fence hunting for native species such as white-tailed deer and elk. Those species are abundant and don’t need to be saved. The Texas ranchers have been raising exotics and helping to shield them from extinction for more than 50 years. I see the value in that.

It’s a shame the antis cannot. They argue that raising an animal to kill it is immoral. I wonder how they feel about the morality of allowing a species that could have been saved to slip into extinction.