According to CBS News, hunting ranches in Texas are raising exotic animals and selling the chance to hunt these species as part of a unique and expensive hunting experience.
One ranch owner, Koby Howell, says he has 10 species of exotic animals and owns about 100 animals across his ranches. Ranchers such as Howell are able to enter the exotic animal industry fairly easily, as the industry is mostly privately-run, with some permitting required by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the US Department of Agriculture.
While animal rights groups such as the Humane Society of the United States oppose this practice, organizations such as the Exotics Wildlife Association view it as a wildlife population management tool. The association’s 2,700 members believe that exotic wildlife would suffer without exotic breeders and hunters.
Currently, a Texas Parks and Wildlife statute prohibits the killing or injuring of certain dangerous, wild animals kept in captivity, but the definition of what constitutes a dangerous, wild animal is up for debate. Meanwhile, ranchers in the nation’s hub for exotic animal breeding can continue to charge thousands of dollars for various exotic hunting experiences.