According to a recent 60 Minutes report, Texas has more exotic wildlife than any place on Earth. More than 125 exotic species can be found, many of which are endangered in their native habitats. But on these animal resorts, populations seem to be thriving.
Why? They're being hunted. While this may seem counter intuitive, hunting these animals costs a pretty penny, and much of the proceeds go to ensuring a strong population of these endangered animals for the future. Lara Logan with "60 Minutes" reports that it would cost $4,500 to kill a scimitar horned oryx -- an animal considered extinct in its native habitat -- $10,000 for a dama gazelle and $50,000 for a cape buffalo. In addition to bringing in revenue, Logan reports that the business employs about 14,000 people in Texas.
But, as you might expect, animal rights activists aren't happy about this method of maintaining the population. In fact, Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals, implies on the show that she would rather see the animals go extinct than live on such resorts.
Watch the clip:
It appears as if Feral will get her way to an extent. 60 Minutes reports that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will soon begin enforcing a rule that requires a strict federal permit to hunt some of these animals on ranches, which was not required before. For Charlie Seale, who represents 5,000 exotic animal ranches as the executive director of the Exotic Wildlife Association, this means less business, less money and therefore less to contribute to maintaining a strong population of the scimitar horned oryx and two other endangered antelope to which the rule applies:
"I will say that in five years you'll see half the numbers that you see today. And I would venture to guess in 10 years they'll be virtually none of 'em left," [Seale said.]
Here is a clip sharing the pro-hunting perspective:
Seale and the hunters consider themselves conservationists. Seale says that without the money, they would not be able to support the growth of the herd population:
[...] you sacrifice one so that many more are born and raised from calves all the way up to the big trophy male or the big trophy females that we have.
On the flip side, animal activists don't see this as an acceptable form of animal conservation. They believe that the hunts are made too easy and that the animals belong in preserves in their natural habitat. Feral said:
I don't want to see them on hunting ranches. I don't want to see them dismembered. I don't want to see their value in body parts. I think it's obscene. I don't think you create a life to shoot it.
Here's more from Feral's perspective:
When asked if she would rather the animals "not exist at all", Feral said "not in Texas, no."