The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a new rule on January 5th, 2012 that eliminated a previous exception regarding permits to hunt three African antelope species on ranches or game operations. Since the information was published, many blogs, forums and other news sources have published false information regarding the ruling.
In 2005 the USFWS added three species of African antelope to the endangered species list, but an exception was made that allowed these species to legally be hunted without a permit.
Danielle Kessler, outreach specialist for the USFWS said a court ruling ordered the USFWS to remove this exception and formalize the process of antelope conservation. The majority of game ranches with antelope populations are in Texas where the species came on ships long ago and now thrives in there, while in Africa their numbers are dwindling. The ruling that goes into effect April 4, 2012 nullifies the exception that ranchers do not need a permit to allow these three species to be hunted on their property.
Beginning April 4th, ranchers will need a permit to allow hunting of the dama gazelle, addax and the scimitar-horned oryx on their property. A permit will also be required if ranchers wish to engage in commerce of these animals.
Misinformation on the web
USFWS has been in damage-control mode for some time and has been in contact with Outdoor Hub to help quell misinformation on the web. Speculation online includes misinformation that obtaining a permit will be difficult, that it will cost thousands of dollars and that permit processing time is outrageous.
In reality, Kessler said the process is not that cumbersome and USFWS put together a myths and facts sheet that you can access by clicking here (pdf).
What this means for hunters
- Hunters may still hunt the three species of native African antelope.
- Hunters should make sure that they hunt on ranches that have the appropriate authorization from the USFWS to allow them to hunt.
- Other than the state-issued regular hunting permits, there is no additional permit needed to hunt antelope.
- Costs for hunters have not been raised by this ruling, although some ranchers may assuage their increased costs by charging hunters more. Hunters do have to pay if they want to export the animal to a country other than the one the animal was taken in.
What this means for ranchers
- If a rancher wishes only to own and breed the animals, no permit is necessary.
- If a rancher wishes to carry out activities normally prohibited, for example: interstate or foreign commerce, import, export (including re-export), culling or other forms of take, he/she must obtain the proper permit and join the federal Captive-Bred Wildlife (CBW) program.
- Ranchers must be part of CBW if he/she owns captive-born, exotic, endangered or threatened wildlife AND he/she wishes to carry out otherwise prohibited activities, such as those mentioned above. The permit requirements are simple and the application carries a $200 processing fee that once issued, is good for five years.
- If a rancher wishes to allow hunting on his/her property, a take/interstate commerce (cull) permit is required. The application fee for this permit costs $100 and is good for one year.
- Permit processing can take an upwards of 90 days, but the USFWS is trying to reduce the time to 60 days or less. The review process includes a mandatory 30-day comment period to receive public comments.
- Annual renewal for the take/interstate commerce permit costs $100, but the renewal process is much faster than an initial application.
- The take/interstate commerce permit does not restrict the number of animals taken in a year IF the take is for management of a herd that is being maintained for conservation of the species.
Example of permit application costs:
Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Three Antelopes Myths and Facts
- To register for CBW, visit http://www.fws.gov/forms/3-200-41.pdf
- To apply for a “export, import, interstate and foreign commerce, take of animals” permit, visit http://www.fws.gov/forms/3-200-37.pdf
- For brief information on the issue, visit Open Spaces, the USFWS blog.
- Get full documentation and coverage of the issue on the USFWS international affairs page, Management and Scientific Authorities.
The issue is still ongoing. A Congressman from Texas is introducing legislation to override the previous court ruling that made it necessary for ranchers to obtain permits. He is worried that the added cost and paperwork for ranchers will lead them to eliminate their herd for financial reasons before the rule takes effect in April. Click here to read the press release.