Captive-Bred What? Say It's Not So, New York Times!

Hank2211

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Ever since I was a young child, I have struggled, mightily, with a problem. I try and resist it, but generally the urge is so strong I quickly succumb. My wife says it's still a problem today.

That's the urge to say "I told you so."

As some of you who have followed the captive bred lion hunting debate will know, I have long been on the side of those who say that there is no difference between captive bred lion hunting and captive bred anything else hunting. Morally or ethically. And that once we agree that there is such a distinction, well, we're on our way to banning every other sort of captive bred animal hunting.

This article appeared in today's New York Times:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/19/us/exotic-hunting-texas-ranch.html?

I can't get it to work as a link, so you will likely have to copy and paste.

While the article isn't as bad as you might expect, given the source, let there be no doubt what the author intends with an article such as this: The stoking and outpouring of righteous indignation and rage by all those who find no difference between raising one type of animal and another for hunting.

I told you so.


Blood and Beauty on a Texas Exotic-Game Ranch

UVALDE, Tex. — On a ranch at the southwestern edge of the Texas Hill Country, a hunting guide spotted her cooling off in the shade: an African reticulated giraffe. Such is the curious state of modern Texas ranching, that a giraffe among the oak and the mesquite is an everyday sort of thing.

“That’s Buttercup,” said the guide, Buck Watson, 54.

In a place of rare creatures, Buttercup is among the rarest; she is off limits to hunters at the Ox Ranch. Not so the African bongo antelope, one of the world’s heaviest and most striking spiral-horned antelopes, which roams the same countryside as Buttercup. The price to kill a bongo at the Ox Ranch is $35,000.

Himalayan tahrs, wild goats with a bushy lion-style mane, are far cheaper. The trophy fee, or kill fee, to shoot one is $7,500. An
Arabian oryx is $9,500; a sitatunga antelope, $12,000; and a black wildebeest, $15,000.

“We don’t hunt giraffes,” Mr. Watson said. “Buttercup will live out her days here, letting people take pictures of her. She can walk around and graze off the trees as if she was in Africa.”

The Ox Ranch near Uvalde, Tex., is not quite a zoo, and not quite an animal shooting range, but something in between.

The ranch’s hunting guides and managers walk a thin, controversial line between caring for thousands of rare, threatened and endangered animals and helping to execute them. Some see the ranch as a place for sport and conservation. Some see it as a place for slaughter and hypocrisy.

Continue reading the main story


The Ox Ranch provides a glimpse into the future of the mythic Texas range — equal parts exotic game-hunting retreat, upscale outdoor adventure, and breeding and killing ground for exotic species.

Ranchers in the nation’s top cattle-raising state have been transforming pasture land into something out of an African safari, largely to lure trophy hunters who pay top-dollar kill fees to hunt exotics. Zebra mares forage here near African impala antelopes, and it is easy to forget that downtown San Antonio is only two hours to the east.

The ranch has about 30 bongo, the African antelopes with a trophy fee of $35,000. Last fall, a hunter shot one. “Taking one paid their feed bill for the entire year, for the rest of them,” said Jason Molitor, the chief executive of the Ox Ranch.

To many animal-protection groups, such management of rare and endangered species — breeding some, preventing some from being hunted, while allowing the killing of others — is not only repulsive, but puts hunting ranches in a legal and ethical gray area.

“Depending on what facility it is, there’s concern when animals are raised solely for profit purposes,” said Anna Frostic, a senior attorney with the Humane Society of the United States.

Hunting advocates disagree and say the breeding and hunting of exotic animals helps ensure species’ survival. Exotic-game ranches see themselves not as an enemy of wildlife conservation but as an ally, arguing that they contribute a percentage of their profits to conservation efforts.

“We love the animals, and that’s why we hunt them,” Mr. Molitor said. “Most hunters in general are more in line with conservation than the public believes that they are.”

Beyond the financial contributions, hunting ranches and their supporters say the blending of commerce and conservation helps save species from extinction.

Wildlife experts said there are more blackbuck antelope in Texas than there are in their native India because of the hunting ranches. In addition, Texas ranchers have in the past sent exotic animals, including scimitar-horned oryx, back to their home countries to build up wild populations there.

“Ranchers can sell these hunts and enjoy the income, while doing good for the species,” said John M. Tomecek, a wildlife specialist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

Animal-rights activists are outraged by these ranches. They call what goes on there “canned hunting” or “captive hunting.’’

“Hunting has absolutely nothing to do with conservation,” said Ashley Byrne, the associate director of campaigns for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. “What they’re doing is trying to put a better spin on a business that they know the average person finds despicable.”

A 2007 report from Texas A&M University called the exotic wildlife industry in America a billion-dollar industry.

At the Ox Ranch, it shows. The ranch has luxury log cabins, a runway for private planes and a 6,000-square-foot lodge with stone fireplaces and vaulted ceilings. More animals roam its 18,000 acres than roam the Houston Zoo, on a tract of land bigger than the island of Manhattan. The ranch is named for its owner, Brent C. Oxley, 34, the founder of HostGator.com, a web hosting provider that was sold in 2012 for more than $200 million.

“The owner hopes in a few years that we can break even,” Mr. Molitor said.

Because the industry is largely unregulated, there is no official census of exotic animals in Texas. But ranchers and wildlife experts said that Texas has more exotics than any other state. A survey by the state Parks and Wildlife Department in 1994 put the exotic population at more than 195,000 animals from 87 species, but the industry has grown explosively since then; one estimate by John T. Baccus, a retired Texas State University biologist, puts the current total at roughly 1.3 million.

The Ox Ranch needs no local, state or federal permit for most of their exotic animals.

State hunting regulations do not apply to exotics, which can be hunted year-round. The Fish and Wildlife Service allows ranches to hunt and kill certain animals that are federally designated as threatened or endangered species, if the ranches take certain steps, including donating 10 percent of their hunting proceeds to conservation programs. The ranches are issued permits to conduct activities that would otherwise be prohibited under the Endangered Species Act if those activities enhance the survival of the species in the wild. Those federal permits make it legal to hunt Eld’s deer and other threatened or endangered species at the Ox Ranch.

Mr. Molitor said more government oversight was unnecessary and would drive ranchers out of the business. “I ask people, who do you think is going to manage it better, private organizations or the government?” Mr. Molitor said.

Lawyers for conservation and animal-protection groups say that allowing endangered animals to be hunted undermines the Endangered Species Act, and that the ranches’ financial contributions fail to benefit wildlife conservation.

“We ended up with this sort of pay-to-play idea,” said Tanya Sanerib, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “It is absolutely absurd that you can go to a canned-hunt facility and kill an endangered or threatened species.”

The creatures are not the only things at the ranch that are exotic. The tanks are, too.

The ranch offers its guests the opportunity to drive and shoot World War II-era tanks. People fire at bullet-ridden cars from atop an American M4 Sherman tank at a shooting range built to resemble a Nazi-occupied French town.

“We knew the gun people would come out,” said Todd DeGidio, the chief executive of DriveTanks.com, which runs the tank operation. “What surprised us was the demographic of people who’ve never shot guns before.”

Late one evening, two hunters, Joan Schaan and her 15-year-old son, Daniel, rushed to get ready for a nighttime hunt, adjusting the SWAT-style night-vision goggles on their heads.

Ms. Schaan is the executive director of a private foundation in Houston. Daniel is a sophomore at St. John’s School, a prestigious private school. They were there not for the exotics, but basically for the pests: feral hogs, which cause hundreds of millions of dollars in damage annually in Texas.

“We are here because we both like to hunt, and we like hunting hogs,” Ms. Schaan said. “And we love the meat and the sausage from the hogs we harvest.”

Pursuing the hogs, Ms. Schaan and her son go off-roading through the brush in near-total darkness, with a hunting guide behind the wheel. Aided by their night-vision goggles, they passed by the giraffes before rattling up and down the hilly terrain.

Daniel fired at hogs from the passenger seat with a SIG Sauer 516 rifle, his spent shell casings flying into the back seat. Their guide, Larry Hromadka, told Daniel when he could and could not take a shot.

No one is allowed to hunt at the ranch without a guide. The guides make sure no one shoots an exotic animal accidentally with a stray bullet, and that no one takes aim at an off-limits creature.

One of the hogs Daniel shot twitched and appeared to still be alive, until Mr. Hromadka approached with his light and his gun.

Hundreds of animals shot at the ranch have ended up in the cluttered workrooms and showrooms at Graves Taxidermy in Uvalde.

Part of the allure of exotic game-hunting is the so-called trophy at the end — the mounted and lifelike head of the animal that the hunter put down. The Ox Ranch is Graves Taxidermy’s biggest customer.

“My main business, of course, is white-tailed deer, but the exotics have kind of taken over,” said Browder Graves, the owner.

He said the animal mounts he makes for people were not so much a trophy on a wall as a symbol of the hunter’s memories of the entire experience. He has a mount of a Himalayan tahr he shot in New Zealand that he said he cannot look at without thinking of the time he spent with his son hunting up in the mountains.

“It’s God’s creature,” he said. “I’m trying to make it look as good as it can.”

Small herds passed by the Jeep being driven by Mr. Watson, the hunting guide. There were white elk and eland, impala and Arabian oryx.

Then the tour came to an unexpected stop. An Asiatic water buffalo blocked the road, unimpressed by the Jeep. The animal was caked with dried mud, an aging male that lived away from the herd.

“The Africans call them dugaboys,” Mr. Watson said. “They’re old lone bulls. They’re so big that they don’t care.”

The buffalo took his time moving. For a moment, at least, he had all the power.


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sierraone

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I read the same article published in the Dallas Morning News yesterday. I paid attention until an attorney for the U.S. Humane Society started her comments. Since I despise the Humane Society, I then moved on to other mostly worthless news of the day.
 

CAustin

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You were right Hank. Next thing you know Duck hunting is going to get the same kind of high brow smear
 

buck wild

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wesheltonj

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Well, the other take away is Bongo is only 35k and you don't have to go into a war zone to shoot one.
 

Red Leg

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Helps you understand the chasm that exists between their core readership who, I assure you, were appalled, and folks like us. Was also posted on Drudge.
 

rinehart0050

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I wonder what ox ranch thought they'd achieve by agreeing to this interview.

Totally agree with @Hank2211. Anti hunters aren't anti lion hunting, they're anti all hunting.
 

Hank2211

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Well, the other take away is Bongo is only 35k and you don't have to go into a war zone to shoot one.
That’s going for the silver lining!

The comments in the NYT are well into the thousands, and in one way or another, they all say the same thing - we lack certain portions of the male genitalia (I just checked - not the case) and we all deserve to die (still alive). Entirely irrational, misinformed, vindictive, vitriolic, and virulent, and utterly unwilling to consider any other position or engage in constructive dialogue. But that’s what we have to deal with.
 

sierraone

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That’s going for the silver lining!

The comments in the NYT are well into the thousands, and in one way or another, they all say the same thing - we lack certain portions of the male genitalia (I just checked - not the case) and we all deserve to die (still alive). Entirely irrational, misinformed, vindictive, vitriolic, and virulent, and utterly unwilling to consider any other position or engage in constructive dialogue. But that’s what we have to deal with.
That too!
 

Hogpatrol

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Right, wrong or indifferent, the NY Times article is just another standard anti-hunting article from the #1 left leaning rag in the U.S. The entire article has disparaging photos and captions totally anti-hunting and with comments from PETA and other anti-hunting organizations.
 

Ryan

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I knew the slant once I read HSUS. But it can't be ignored, just combatted.
 

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Are you trying to tell me there are people out there that don't like hunting ??
Well blow down .
I thought it was compulsory in America from age 5 ?
I thought alll the greenies and save the world from everything people all lived here in New Zealand .
 

Philip Glass

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We have to put a stop to the antis use of the term canned. I as interviewed by phone yesterday be some Brit for the international release of @trophythefilm and he asked about canned hunting. I went off on him! There is NO canned hunting that I know of. Canned hunting is shooting in a pen! The antis are using this term to mean any animal managed by man under fence and it is wrong. Time to fight back!
Regards,
Philip
 

Hank2211

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We have to put a stop to the antis use of the term canned. I as interviewed by phone yesterday be some Brit for the international release of @trophythefilm and he asked about canned hunting. I went off on him! There is NO canned hunting that I know of. Canned hunting is shooting in a pen! The antis are using this term to mean any animal managed by man under fence and it is wrong. Time to fight back!
Regards,
Philip
Could not agree more, Philip. It’s great that your film has given you this platform to fight the good fight, but it strikes me you should have far more high profile allies with you. Where is SCI? Where is DSC? These, and other, groups, have allowed their general unwillingness to be seen as supporting captive-bred lion hunting to silence them on the entire issue. That is exactly the opposite of what should be happening.
 

Philip Glass

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Af far as support for me in regards to Trophy there has been a little indirect support from DSC but SCI has left me hanging. Even after giving them the film, the facts, and the results (positive including antis emailing me saying they are changed!!!) nothing but crickets chirping. My SCI Chapter President has emailed them all as has John Hume and others scolding them for distancing themselves from me as i do the hard work (something I’m accustomed to I’m a rancher!) They went so far as to put out an email Warning the clubs about Trophy and how bad it is and to refer all media questions to their PR firm. What an embarrassment. I can’t wait to confront them at the shows if given the chance!
It would be nice if people from this forum and others emailed all the officers of SCI and scold them for not supporting one of their life members in this endeavor. They don’t have to “support” the film but support their members and their efforts. I could go on but you guys know where I am coming from....
Philip
 

Royal27

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Af far as support for me in regards to Trophy there has been a little indirect support from DSC but SCI has left me hanging. Even after giving them the film, the facts, and the results (positive including antis emailing me saying they are changed!!!) nothing but crickets chirping. My SCI Chapter President has emailed them all as has John Hume and others scolding them for distancing themselves from me as i do the hard work (something I’m accustomed to I’m a rancher!) They went so far as to put out an email Warning the clubs about Trophy and how bad it is and to refer all media questions to their PR firm. What an embarrassment. I can’t wait to confront them at the shows if given the chance!
It would be nice if people from this forum and others emailed all the officers of SCI and scold them for not supporting one of their life members in this endeavor. They don’t have to “support” the film but support their members and their efforts. I could go on but you guys know where I am coming from....
Philip

You're kidding me... this is exactly why I wasn't an SCI member for so long and then I finally caved. I'll write a letter. Any suggestions as to whom in particular @Philip Glass ?
 

MAdcox

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Any article that quotes HSUS and/or PETA has no intention of being unbiased. No matter how the rest of the article is written. There may be reasonable, debatable sides to most arguments, but not with groups like this involved.
 

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