As the global debate continues about trophy hunting after the killing of Cecil, the lion in Zimbabwe, some may be stunned to know that trophy hunting of exotic animals takes place in the United States - on a daily basis.
According to Samantha Hagio, policy manager of the Wildlife Protection Campaign at the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), there are approximately 1,000 canned hunt facilities in the U.S. (small or large facilities that confine the animals with a fence, for example), and half of them are in Texas.
But how did zebras or other exotic animals actually get to the state?
The first release of exotics onto Texas ranches occurred in 1930, when a group of nilgai antelope was released on the King Ranch in South Texas, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). By 1988, exotic species were found in more than half of the counties in Texas, and over 90,000 of those animals were confined behind fences (this is the most recent data by TPWD).
Besides the zebra, there are scores of other exotics available to hunt in Texas, including the scimitar-horned oryx, which is extinct in the wild. In fact, some ranch owners say that if it weren't for conservation-minded hunts in Texas, certain exotic species would disappear altogether - and the monies paid to hunt them can be applied to ensuring the species' survival. (To read more on this argument, see: "Quandary on Texas ranch: Can you protect rare species by hunting it?").