Hunting Endangered Species

Can hunting save an endangered species? Yes. In Africa hunting has been critical to the conservation of a number of species, despite the sometimes opposition of the United States which can prohibit US citizens from hunting even in foreign countries.

I was surprised to discover, however, that “some exotic animal species that are endangered in Africa are thriving on ranches in Texas, where a limited number are hunted for a high price.” Texas hunters have saved several endangered African species, unfortunately for the animals, the story does not end happily. Video from 60 Minutes below–some excellent material on incentives, ethics and conservation for classroom discussion.


I'm not certain that gazelles on ranches in Texas are a good substitute for gazelles in their native habitat, in ecological or animal ethics terms.

Also I can't think of many things that would be worse for what's left of the Texan ecosystem than introducing a few hundred species in huge numbers, all at once. Any suggestion that environmentalists should be in favour of this is ridiculous.

In favor of hunting or in favor of the rule change that will cause the ranchers to kill/release animals? You realize we are talking about private ranches, right?

The odds that these exotics are displacing native ecosystem in Texas is vanishingly small. It is just conversion of one type of agricultural ecosystem to another.

I think you have no idea how completely altered Texas's exosystem is from any imaginable natural state. Actually the whole idea of a natural ecosystem is a complete lie in any settled area, and that includes East Africa as well.

As long as there are gazelles in Texas, they can never go extinct. Obviously gazelles in Texas can be transported to Africa. If not fr Texas, some of these animals would be extinct right now!

A gazelle in Texas is not a true Scotsman, no wait, gazelle.

Personally I'd think frozen specimens would be good enough...

Sport hunters are generally more conservation minded than most (because they place an exceedingly high value on having enough animals to hunt their entire lives).

'Growing more animals' is not the same as conservation. This reminds me of the claim that farmers care more about animal welfare than animal activists, because the animals are their livelihood. In both cases the animals are attributed instrumental, as opposed to inherent, value.

Ducks Unlimited and the Rocky Mtn Elk Foundation do more habitat conservation that just about anyone else (and they both have a much better record for finishing restoration projects than smaller groups).

It certainly is the same as preventing extinction. You do realize that in the wild, these animals are hunted by other animals?


Merely preserving the animal is not sufficient. The animals exist as part of a system, a ecological web, from which you can't expect optimal outcomes for the animal or its ecological system just by plucking one species out and hunting it in Texas. It's not enough to conserve the species, one must conserve the ecosystem of which that species is a part.

Well that's a different argument isn't it. I don't think these hunters are making any claim to preserving the East African ecosystem lock stock and barrel, down to its unique bacteriological microcultures. They're making a claim to preserving the gazelles, specifically. You might think that's not good enough, but you must admit they are doing exactly what they set out to do.

Growing more animals is conservation.

You apparently would rather have these animals go extinct than have them hunted in Texas.

That argument is quite possibly true then. People can value lots of things for inherent reasons, and thus wind up spreading their caring thinly. The way people earn their income is typically more limited, so caring isn't so finely spread, so it's quite plausible that farmers who care about animals for instrumental reasons (their income) care more than animal activists, who only care about them for inherent reasons. Though I don't know how you'd check this, unless you're a telepath.

Matt, instrumental value is the only thing that will keep them alive in the long run. Hell, I don't even ascribe very much inherent value to _you_, you're just pixels on a screen. If the survival of the species in question depends on the attribution of inherent value by significant numbers, they're doomed. The locals (in Africa) have already proven that much to you.

The law will always be based on the typical and not the exceptions.

Driving at 120 mph might sometimes save a life; but should we expect the law to abolish speed limits to cover a corner case?

There's a lot of subjectivity in what defines a corner case.

Case in point, your example can be turned around - most people driving at 120 mph will not have an accident most of the time. Should we abolish driving at 120 mph because some corner cases cannot handle that speed?

They just changed the law even though it is obvious that hunting increases the numbers of these animals.

What's better: a tiger on a Texas ranch or one in a preserved Indian habitat?

If the time comes at which tigers are extinct in the wild, and found only on ranches and in zoos, I would not consider that species to have been 'saved'.

We'll keep your consideration in mind, Matt, but many of us would disagree, hewing to a more intuitive definition of 'saved.' Cows (and gazelles) are alive today in far higher numbers than they would otherwise be because they are treated instrumentally. We can't ask them if they mind this quite yet. When they are capable of answering I'll pay attention to their response. Until then, I'll await your presentation of their power of attorney before I care particularly what you think about it. I trust you'll do the same with me.... categorical imperative and all that.

Ahem "cows". Degenerate Holsteins, maybe - but not cows proper, in all their magnificent genetic diversity. Are all subspecies of gazelles provided for? I doubt it...

First, if I ever start a rock band, they're going to be called the Degenerate Holsteins. Second, I didn't say (or even imply) that Bos primigenius would be extinct but for man's instrumental interest... only that they would exist in lower numbers. As to subspecies, we will save as many as we have an interest in blowing away for 'sport.'

Because of course, animals can never be reintroduced into the wild, that has certainly never happened before.

A tiger can always be transplanted from a Texas ranch to an Indian habitat, if such exists. If, however, the Indian habitat no longer exists, or not enough exists to support a viable tiger population, what's wrong with having some tigers in Texas? Would you rather have tigers go extinct because their native habitat wasn't protected soon enough?

Apparently the answer is "yes".

More importantly, we should be able to ride endangered species. I would love to ride a narwhal around. I think if we could somehow sedate tigers with hormones, such that children could ride them to school, then the chance of their extinction would become negligible. Ditto if we could make one endangered species ride on another one.

I think that's how we got Ligers and Tigons.

hardly would be effective for endangered butterflies, would it?

Aggressive lepidopterists simply use nets and specimen mounts in place of rifles and trophy displays.

The same line argument is used for Bullfighting in Spain and Mexico. If bullfighting was banned, the 'Toro de Lidia' breeds will go extinct because they are very inefficient as meat cattle, require to be grown free range and the obvious problems with herding them.

Can a breed, as opposed to a species, even be said to go "extinct?" (To be fair I have no idea exactly how different the bred-for-fighting bulls are from regular cattle; perhaps they're different enough to be a separate subspecies.) It's an interesting question though because it forces you to really think about what it is you're trying to preserve.

So, is it true? If so, the only question is which is more important, preservation of the breed or elimination of cruel bullfights.

It is Alex Season.

If you support the raising of endangered species for hunting, why not for other uses? Say ivory, fur, or the fertility potions seemingly loved by the Chinese? Of course, this would undoubtedly be exploitation of animals. Even if much of the proceeds were used to buy and/or restore pristine native habitat to raise even more animals for exploitation, that is always bad in the eyes of some, regardless of any benefits like survival of the endangered species or more secure habitats for other species of less economic interest.

I'd be in favour of that.

So what happens (hypothetically) if American law forbids me from doing a certain thing while I am abroad whereas the laws of the land I am in require me to do that same thing. i.e. isn't there something fundamentally iffy about having to obey the sovereign laws of two nations at the same time?

Wonder if this circumstance has ever practically arisen? Wonder if there's a legal precedent about this. Does the law of the nation I am a citizen of trump over the laws of the nation I am a resident of?

As far as America is concerned, American law wins, and if that causes you to fall afoul foreign regulations, that's your problem and not the problem of the United States government.

I comes up in engineering contexts a lot.

fall afoul _of_ foreign regulations

_It_ comes up in engineering contexts a lot.


The fishermen that I know who fish for pleasure are the strongest environmentalists that I know. Most preservation of wild streams and rivers have fisherman to thank. These hunters aren't harvesting gazelles. They hunt one gazelle for $10K. That profit leads to more gazelles.

Is this perfect? No. Is it better than having the animals be extinct? Yes. Do some people find this repugnant? Yes. Is repugnance one of the greatest barriers to solving economic problems? Oftentimes, yes. (Read Al Roth.)

"In the coming weeks, a new rule issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will take effect, making it a crime to hunt the scimitar horned oryx - and two other endangered antelope - without a federal permit that will be difficult, if not impossible, to obtain. "

I suspect that a few years down the road the ranch will get rid of (slaughter) the remaining scimitar horned oryx to make room for a more profitable animal breed. The perfect is the enemy of the good enough.

The perfect MAY be the enemy of the good enough, but in this case the Stupid has got in long before the perfect has appeared on the horizon.

The greenies are not pro-species so much as they are anti-human.

Or, they care more about signaling than about wildlife.

I wonder how many of the people objecting to paying to hunt exotic animals are meat eaters? Unless you're a committed vegan, animals are being slaughtered all the time on your behalf. The animal is just as dead whether it ended up on your dinner plate or as a trophy for a hunter. I guess once the species is fully extinct they'll be happy because no more of the oryx will be killed.

Did anyone read the anti-hunting activist woman's name?

Priscilla Feral

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