Friends of Animals, according to its own website, is a ‘non-profit, international animal advocacy organization,’ which ‘works to cultivate a respecful view of nonhuman animals, free-living and domestic.’ The group’s stated goal is ‘to free animals from cruelty and institutionalized exploitation around the world.’So you would think Friends of Animals would be happy to work with other groups and individuals who want to save animal specie from extinction, especially those who already have a proven successful track record in that area. Not so much.FoA’s president, Priscilla Feral, was featured in a 60 Minutes program recently about exotic game hunting in Texas. Feral represented what you’d call the ‘opposition’ to the hunting of exotic game animals on private ranches, or anywhere else, for that matter. She thinks it’s wrong to hunt animals at all, anywhere, at any time, regardless of the situation.Feral is clearly aware that the scimitar-horned oryx is almost extinct in its native Africa, since she has been involved in creating a preserve in Senegal to help them out. But while there aren’t many of the oryx left in Africa, there are anywhere from 6,000 to 10,000 of them alive and well, living on private ranches in the U.S., where they are hunted as a game animal.Feral is opposed to these ranches, of course, even though African preserves have proven ineffective. When asked if she’d rather the animals went completely extinct, or were kept alive and continued to thrive because of hunting, her answer was that it would be better if they didn’t exist at all.So there you go. For some reason scientists have yet to explain, animal rights activists are irrational to the point of ludicrousity. OK, I just made that word up. But still, it fits.The truth is, without the financial incentive hunting provides, the scimitar-horned oryx, and some other species that have been brought back from the brink of extinction on Texas hunting ranches, would be gone forever. Some species have been reintroduced into their native lands using stock raised in the U.S., and there are quite a few species with greater numbers in Texas than where they came from.Money drives the train, and without hunting there is no money. David Bamburger knows that. He doesn’t like hunting, but he is realistic enough to admit that without it, there would be no reason for ranchers to stock their ranches with exotic game.During the late 1970s, when the scimitar-horned oryx was just about to exhale its last gasp, Bamberger offered to save them. He was sent almost every one left in the world, and brought them back from the edge of the abyss. Without Bamberger’s help, that species, and possibly some others, would be history.Sidebar: Over ten years ago, Bamberger built an artificial batcave on his property near Johnson City. I made fun of that, because after a couple of years the bats had still not decided to move in. I wasn’t trying to be rude, I just make fun of everything. And I certainly didn’t poke as much fun at Bamberger as I do at myself. Actually, I thought the bat cave was pretty neat. The bats did too, eventually, which was good for the surrounding countryside.The Johnson City paper had just picked up my column, and when Bamberger saw that piece, about the bat cave, he told them not to run my articles in their paper anymore. And they haven’t. You don’t argue with a guy who has lots of money. The same principle applies to the exotics. Without the money, they disappear, the same way my column did.I should probably apologize to Mr. Bamberger. I think he’s a great man, and Texas owes him a lot. But if I get a chance to poke fun at him again, I probably will. It’s nothing personal, just business. Poking fun is what I do. End Sidebar.Exotic game hunting is a billion dollar industry in Texas, and creates over 14,000 jobs. Still, Feral believes hunting these animals is ‘ludicrous’ and ‘immoral’ and ‘obscene,’ and that no one is entitled to hunt them. She just doesn’t seem to get it, that hunting is good for them.Neither does U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), who, together with U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), sponsored a bill which will soon go into effect. This bill makes it illegal to hunt the scimitar-horned oryx and some other specie in the United States without a federal permit.Cohen and Sherman are, no offense, about a sharp as a couple of croquet balls. What they have done is negated the effect of thirty years of conservation efforts, by David Bamberger and others, and signed the death certificates for these specie.The value of these animals has already dropped by half. Within ten years there will be virtually none of them left in America, and shortly thereafter they will probably disappear forever. There is just no reason for them to survive without hunting. And they won’t.And that’s the problem. These idiots – Feral, Cohen, Sherman, and others – with the best of intentions, have paved the road to extinction for animals they are sincerely trying to help.It’s amazing the world has managed to survive so long with so much volunteer help.
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who hunts because, as Wilfred Brimley would say, it’s the right thing to do. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or firstname.lastname@example.org