Categories: Hunting

Exotics in Texas

Do They Open a Back Door to Attacks from Anti-Hunting Forces?

In January of 2014 hunters, ranchers and conservationists celebrated the President signing the Omnibus bill that featured a Dallas Safari Club-backed provision to allow continued hunting of scimitar-horned oryx, Dama gazelle and addax antelope.

This was after a previous ban on hunting these species, which are ultra-rare or in some cases totally absent, in their home land of Africa, but flourishing on Texas ranches where they have been managed for hunting for decades.

The ban had been a direct shot at hunters and the hunting community. It is indicative of a new tactic employed to forward an agenda not only against hunting, but also against pet ownership.

The same people who want to eliminate hunting also want to eliminate you owning pets. This has been well-chronicled over the years on these pages with quotes from leaders of groups such as the Humane Society of the United States, PETA and the Fund for Animals.

The tie-in to hunting is they have found a soft spot with exotic and potentially dangerous species, and they have willing accomplices in the media.

The most glaring example is with a 2012 importation ban on several large species of snakes―the Burmese python, yellow anaconda, northern and southern African pythons which were listed as “injurious wildlife” under the Lacey Act. It bans bringing them into the country and moving them across state lines.

The premise is based on the spread of Burmese pythons in the Everglades, which has been perpetuated as a genuine threat by several programs on television. The interesting thing is the species could in no way survive winter and breed much north of that area so one has to wonder why such an aggressive ban.

Do you think animal rights groups are not behind this legislation? Think again.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) issued the following statement in response to news reports that a loose, 10-foot python was allegedly spotted in a wildlife area.

“Visitors to the Navarino Nature Wildlife Area are concerned―as they should be―about reports that a 10-foot python is on the loose in the park. Giant constrictor snakes are capable of injuring and killing people, pets and wildlife, including endangered species,” said Alyson Bodai, Wisconsin state director for The Humane Society of the United States.

“This incident, and hundreds like it, illustrates the urgent need for Wisconsin legislators to pass a law restricting the private possession of dangerous wild animals, and for the U.S. Congress to pass H.R. 511, which would stop the importation and interstate commerce of deadly giant constrictor snakes for the pet trade. The trade in these nonnative snakes threatens public safety, animal welfare and the environment.”

Exotics are a weak spot, and the buzzword is ‘captive hunting.’

Ignore all of the words in the statement but two: “animal” and “welfare.” In the eyes of HSUS that means “animal rights” and the real agenda here is banning reptiles as pets.

You may be thinking that people are crazy for owning snakes, but this is just the beginning. They are coming for other animals as well.

Exotics is the weak spot, and the buzzword in animal rights circles is “captive hunting.” They know it is difficult to get an outright ban on the hunting part, so they will go with other factors. They hit the oryx because of its endangered status, but their new tactic is the spreading of disease.

This is from the HSUS website.

“Due to the high population densities on captive hunts, risk of disease transmission increases, posing a threat to animals inside and outside the fences. And it is doubtful that those involved in the captive hunting business provide acceptable veterinary care for their animals.”

Here’s another quote from the same section on exotic hunting.

“Although there must legally be fencing around captive hunts, animals often can and sometimes do escape from these facilities. Since 2007, there have been 48 instances of elk escaping from captive facilities in Iowa alone. In Wisconsin, captive facilities reported 437 escapes from 2004 to 2007. The interstate transport of animals for breeding purposes increases the possibility of spreading these diseases even further.”

Hog hunting behind high fences was banned a couple of years ago in New York and they have recently banned all hog hunting. Competition with native wildlife was a key reason as was the import and travel ban on pythons.

While it seems implausible at this point that Texas would do such a thing, counties have plenty of leeway with what kinds of animals are allowed. Animal rights groups know most people are out of touch with what goes on at the country and city level and often find great success in various animal bans there.

But exotics are not the only pet targeted. Hog hunting with dogs, particularly the use of pit bulls and other breeds as catch dogs is a particularly hated area for animal rights groups. It is an area we believe is vulnerable, especially at the city and county level.

Insurance companies are already balking at covering owners with pit bulls. Animal rightists are using the breed and its controversy to stoke the fires of breed bans. Here’s an interesting quote from PETA when asked if they would be for a pit bull ban.

“If someone proposed a ban on breeding Labrador retrievers or chihuahuas or poodles [you get the picture – any dog], we’d be for those too. That’s because we don’t think any dogs should be brought into the world as long as millions are dying for lack of homes in animal shelters and on the streets every year.”

Louisiana has banned “hog-dog fights,” (which has nothing to do with hunting) where hogs are released into an area and catch dogs are sent to tackle the hog. Although it is not hunting and should not be compared to it, it is linked by proxy and gives animal rightists an “in.” How long before this translates to banning using catch dogs―or hunting hogs with dogs altogether?

This quote is from an article written for HSUS by Danielle Ring.

“For now, no other states have introduced bills to ban hog-dog fighting. But those states may be lying low for good reason. The HSUS believes that the blood sport is already illegal under many states’ existing animal cruelty laws, and two recent rulings have confirmed this: The attorneys general in Texas and Florida have delivered opinions stating that hog-dog fights violate their cruelty laws.”

Numerous states have bans now on hunting bears with hounds. Are hogs far behind?

This article was written to raise awareness to issues that fly under the radar in most sporting circles. You may not care to own a python; but have no doubt, many of the same people behind that ban would be glad to eliminate exotic hunting. Their cohorts are already contemplating actions on hogs and dogs.

Be on guard, and remember just because they’re not coming for your hobby now, doesn’t mean it’s not next on the agenda.

TF&G Staff: