It’s 9,500 miles from West Texas to South Africa. But both places are home to wildlife species joined in a struggle that pits local, on-the-ground conservation measures against the world’s most suffocating bureaucracy in Washington D.C.
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DALLAS—It’s 9,500 miles from West Texas to South Africa. But both places are home to wildlife species joined in a struggle that pits local, on-the-ground conservation measures against the world’s most suffocating bureaucracy in Washington D.C.
The lesser prairie chicken is proposed for listing as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced last week.
The African lion is in the queue for same consideration, the agency says.
“Everyone wants healthy wildlife, but nothing divides people and fractures efforts more than wrapping that issue in politics,” said Dallas Safari Club (DSC) Executive Director Ben Carter.
Carter pointed out the Endangered Species Act’s poor record in species recovery. Since 1973, hundreds of species have been listed. De-listings, such as the bald eagle, are very rare. Adding doubt is the fact that environmental protection groups have built an entire industry around natural resource policy, using lawsuits and petitions as publicity stunts to solicit donations.
“The best hope for wildlife, from lesser prairie chickens to African lions, is local conservation leadership that includes the area’s landowners and economic realities,” he said.
In the case of lesser prairie chickens, DSC is a strong supporter of a plan developed by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. Carter Smith, president of the association and executive director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, described it as “unprecedented.” Thirty-two companies, including oil and gas companies operating in the bird’s five-state home range, agreed to enroll some 3.5 million acres in habitat programs and provide more than $21 million in funding.
For African lions, DSC is urging a localized strategy to improve population sustainability while keeping the overall economic and conservation benefits of hunting. The solution is simple self-imposed harvest restrictions. Science shows that hunting only older male lions achieves both goals.
With either species, Carter worries that federal intervention through the Endangered Species Act will undermine the best chances to ensure healthy populations for the future.
About Dallas Safari Club
Desert bighorns on an unbroken landscape, stalking Cape buffalo in heavy brush, students discovering conservation. DSC works to guarantee a future for all these and much more. An independent organization since 1982, DSC has become an international leader in conserving wildlife and wilderness lands, educating youth and the general public, and promoting and protecting the rights and interests of hunters worldwide. Get involved at www.biggame.org.