WASHINGTON- -President Obama has signed into law the 2014 Omnibus Bill, which includes a Dallas Safari Club (DSC)-backed provision to ensure the future of three antelope species nearly extinct in their native countries but flourishing on ranches in Texas.
The "Three Amigos" provision, for which DSC has lobbied over the past several years, exempts U.S. populations of scimitar horned oryx, Dama gazelle and addax from Endangered Species Act protections. The exemptions clear the way for ranchers to maintain herds of these exotic game animals and to offer hunts without federal intervention. Hunting revenue incentivizes ranchers to ensure that populations will continue to thrive.
Author of the provision, Rep. John Carter (R-TX-31), said, "This legislation gets big government out of the way so that ranchers can begin working to bring these rare antelope populations back to former levels. This has been a long time in coming, but we got it done."
Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX-32) and Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA-42) also were key supporters.
"I'm pleased that the House and Senate were able to reach an agreement that allows American sportsmen to continue conserving the 'Three Amigos,'" said Sessions. "Despite the onerous and unnecessary federal regulations that have recently threatened the ongoing work to preserve the existence of these endangered antelope, this Omnibus Bill takes important steps to protect the 'Three Amigos' and preserve a rich sporting heritage."
The antelope were exempt from the Endangered Species Act from 2005 until 2012. During that time, populations experienced dramatic growth in the U.S. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was forced to remove the exemptions due to legal action that prompted a cumbersome and lengthy permitting process, all of which led to a dramatic population decreases. For example, scimitar horned oryx numbers in Texas are now at nearly half of 2010 levels.
"We're very grateful to Congressman Carter for offering 'Three Amigos' legislation, and to Congressman Pete Sessions and Senator John Cornyn for insisting that it be part of the Omnibus Bill. This conservation measure wouldn't have happened without their dedicated leadership. Senator Cornyn also played a big role behind the scenes in securing Senate support for this specific legislative fix," said Ben Carter, DSC executive director. "Thanks to our DSC team and the Exotic Wildlife Association (EWA) reps in Washington for helping to make this happen."
Organizations partnering with DSC on this legislation include the EWA, Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, National Rifle Association, Safari Club International and North American Deer Farmer's Association. DSC's Washington representative Glenn LeMunyon and EWA's Liz Williams and John Blount also played vital roles in the process.