500 canned hunting ranches in TX

‘Exotic hunting’ thrives in Texas

As we bounce through the dusty undergrowth in a four-wheel drive, glimpsing rare antelope and even giraffes, we could be forgiven for thinking we are on safari in Africa – but we are not.

This is the YO ranch in Texas. Its website proudly claims it is a “Mecca for hunting”, with more than 50 different species including endangered animals from all over the world.

A price list offers a huge choice of rare species charging up to $8,500 a kill.

It is one of a staggering 500 ranches in Texas alone that in recent years have switched from raising longhorn cattle to the far more profitable, multi-million-dollar industry known as “exotic hunting”, where hunters compete for the largest and most unusual trophies to display on their walls.

Our guide, YO hunting director Eric White, is keen to show how he carefully breeds and manages herds of rare antelope like the endangered scimitar-horned oryx – virtually extinct in its native Africa but thriving on his 6,000-acre (2,400-hectare) ranch in Texas.

“Hunters are amazed. Around every bend you never know what you’re going to see,” he says.

“You could see a zebra, an oryx or an addax deer. You can see animals here that you can almost no longer find in Africa or India.

“We are preserving entire species here in Texas.”

Firing back

The only problem is that these species are being saved simply to be killed, often in a cruel and unsporting fashion, according to animal welfare campaigners.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) recently carried out an undercover investigation into exotic hunting in Texas.

Its investigators found many ranches were not as ethically run as the YO. They filmed animals that appeared so tame they did not run away from hunters and even approached them apparently believing they would be fed.

“In some of these facilities you can pick the animal you want and have it moved into a hunting pen then shoot it the next day,” the Humane Society’s Michael Markarian says.

“It’s like picking a lobster out of a tank at a restaurant. It’s not sportsmanship, there’s no fair chase.”

When they are shot, the society says, the animals usually die a slow and lingering death as hunters do not want to spoil their trophy by shooting them in the head.

Now the animal campaigners are firing back in the courts.

The society is challenging a recent decision by the Bush administration which granted a special exemption to hunting ranches, removing protection for certain endangered animals.

It means hunters can continue to hunt and kill three species of endangered antelope in captivity – the dama gazelle, the addax and the scimitar-horned oryx – so long as they give 10% of profits to conservation.

But the Humane Society’s Michael Markarian counters: “These animals are on the brink of extinction, and we need to do everything we can to preserve them.

“Yet the United States government is saying the only way you can save animals is by shooting them. It’s Orwellian logic. It’s not conservation, it’s nothing more than animal cruelty.”

‘Honourable activity’

On the YO ranch, Eric White insists it is he who is the real conservationist. He claims to have returned rare and endangered animals to help re-breeding programmes in their native countries.

If the captive-bred hunting exemption were removed, he argues, there would be no incentive for him or others to breed endangered species and the scimitar-horned oryx and the like would simply gradually die out.

“What species has the Humane Society ever saved?” he asks.

“They just want to save one animal – perhaps called Bambi – but we have a long-standing record of saving entire species and entire habitats. Hunting is the only way to generate enough dollars to do it.”

However there are growing ethical concerns even within the American hunting community about this new highly-commercialised approach to a traditional sport.

Robert Brown, an experienced hunter and president of the American Wildlife Society, says:

“We’re turning wild animals into domestic animals. The hunter is no longer using his instincts and his reflexes.

“That’s deplorable and turns the public against what is an honourable activity necessary for wildlife management and may one day spoil hunting for the rest of us.”

For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue

an Educational Sanctuary home

to more than 150 big cats

12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625

813.920.4130 fax 885.4457 cell 493.4564

http://www.BigCatRescue.org MakeADifference@BigCatRescue.org

Meet our recent mountain lion cub rescues:



  • Show Comments (15)

  • Beth A Rose

    SICK! These people have issues and need to get help.

  • Susan Breci Welsh

    This needs to be banned now!!!!

  • Hilda Tselentis

    Cruel and barbaric

  • Elizabeth Nolen


  • Wilma Hine

    Disgusting! Blood sport for profit and self serving egotistical idiots who can't support themselves any other way than perpetuating the torture of innocent animals. Needs to be stopped NOW!

  • Anna Goinga

    Brave guys 🙁

  • Lynn Latimer

    This needs to be exposed not in the united states what does they say about us we must stop this now

  • Helena Frangogiannis

    Serial Killers by definition and in practice. They ought to be behind bars.

  • Joanne White

    I cannot find any valid petition against trophy hunting in Texas. Arizona yes.

  • Joanne White

    For people outside of the states and not familiar with the Texas government, who can we petition against? Or write to?

  • Christian Econ

    Can't imagine any way to feel good about killing defenseless, unsuspecting animals.

  • Amber Ferrano

    What is funny is Texas is a big religious state yet they have no respect for the planet GOD created or the animals. How is there any honor in killing let alone something defenseless and near extinction, its pure ignorance. Seriously a whole undocumented 10% is going to save Endangered Species by killing them. 10 cents on the dollar is sure a lot of money in 1600. If you pay $10k to kill these "Endangered," Animals that whole thousand dollars is the cost of feeding a wild animal for 1-4 weeks, so that doesn't even make sense that it could save them. On top of it they are on the "World Endangered Species List" yet self entitled Americans do whatever they want and wonder why other countries call us on the b.s. and they are the bad guy? People spend tens of millions to see wildlife yearly and this sick form "entertainment" probably doesn't make 1/10th of that yet people find it logical and viable. Gawd what it must be like to live a life with no conscience and spew out religion in the process sounds like something America is spending billions on because they are against it. Again all talk. There is NOTHING justifiable about this!!!!!!

  • Jamie Murphy

    its unethical. if they naturally go extinct, then they more than likely were not strong enough. its called survival. for them to be tortured, tranquilized, bred to trust humans to the point that they will let you pet them, just to be shot the next time they show up at their feeding spot….is unethical. I am dumbfounded that you are dumbfounded.

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