This is a little off topic for this blog, but I found this story interesting enough that I wanted to share.
Last night, 60 Minutes ran an interesting segment on Big Game Hunting in the state of Texas. Essentially the report focused on several large wildlife preserves in the state (ranches with 600 acres plus) that are essentially preserves for many species of animals that are either endangered, or extinct in their natural habitats in Africa. Some of these preserves are even using their resources to help reintroduce these species back into their native habitats in Africa.
Sounds awesome, right?
Well, kind of. The controversy here is that in addition to raising these animals, and reintroducing them into the wild, they also allow hunting of these animals on their land. Essentially, the demand for these trophies is high enough that it creates enough revenue to help support them using the land for these animals and reintroducing them. Without this financial gain (some trophies can bring up to $50,000), the ranchers argue they could not dedicate this much land to use for the animals, or coordinate their reintroduction back in the wild -- that few people can really afford such a venture just out of the kindness of their hearts.
It's an interesting piece and 60 Minutes did their usual good job of painting both sides of the issue I think fairly. While I understand the distaste for the hunting of endangered species on private land, I also can appreciate the economics of this and the desire to preserve beautiful species.
I happen to have met a few folks with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation - and organization that is pro hunting, but has also raised and spent million of dollars on buying land and reintroducting elk into natural habitats where they had become extinct. This organization is in large part responsible for the reintroduction of about 500 Elk back into Arkansas -- and another 150 or so to date in Missouri -- places where Elk were native, but had been killed off by over hunting. So the desire to hunt, and the desire to better things for the animals, are not necessarily mutually exclusive. (I will note that I have less of a problem with things like Elk hunting, where people use the animals for food and sustinance, vs the pure trophy hunting that is featured in the 60 Minutes feature).
So I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Please be civil - -and I do ask that you try to at least give the benefit of the doubt to the other side as being interested in doing what they feel is best for the animals. Here's the video: