Tuesday, January 10, 2017


Image result for nilgai helicopter hunting

By Juan Montoya
Last weekend helicopter-borne hunters bagged some 48 nilgai (Texas Antelope) around the Bahia Grande area near the intersection of Highway 100 and Highway 48.
The start of the hunts surprised some local hunters who complain that the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) sponsored hunts hailed as an attempt to stem the spread of cattle fever tick may be no more than a ruse to eradicate the nilgai population and at the same time give the private butchering and meat-processing company a chance to make a profit.

More so, they say, because instead of a non-profit such as Trinity Oaks which distributes the meat to soup kitchens who feed the homeless and the poor in Texas and northern Mexico, the company contracted by the TDA is a for-profit game-processing firm that sells the meat harvested from the animals in Cameron County  though its website to customers throughout the world.

The processors – the Broken Arrow Ranch Company – sell cuts of the nilgai meat starting at $17 per pound for the less expensive cuts to as much as $35 to $40 for choice cuts.  www.brokenarrowranch.com
This isn't sitting well with local hunters who say the fact that the state is farming out the contract to an outside firm means that local hunter won't get a fair shot at hunting the animals.
"It costs about $3,000 to go to the King Ranch to hunt a nilagi and now the (Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife) Refuge is letting this out to a company that is going to make a profit from it," said a hunter who has tried to get into the lottery at the refuge to hunt nilgai. "They even raised the cost of the fee from $80 about double that amount."

The hunts around Laguna Atascosa and the Bahia Grande area around the Brownsville Navigation District ant Highway 100 are scheduled for the next four Thursdays.

Others say that the nonprofit Trinity Oaks, while promising to donate some of the meat it harvested from the area, actually gave away the majority of the meat to homeless shelters and soup kitchens as far north as San Antonio and South of the border.
Image result for good neighbor settlement houseOf the 24,000 pounds of choice Texas Antelope (nilgai) – and an unknown number of pounds of feral hog meat that Trinity Oaks received from last November's hunt, most was handed out to diverse soup kitchens in the state, and, according to Trinity Oaks spokesmen, the hungry in Mexico.
Harlingen's Loaves and Fishes and received a batch of the meat – mostly feral hog and little of the more expensive nilgai – for its soup kitchen.

The Ozanam Center in Brownsville reported it received 62 pounds of ground meat from Trinity Oaks.
"We can't afford to pay $4,500 to hire a helicopter for the hunts since we are a nonprofit," said a spokesman for Trinity Oaks. "We couldn't afford it."

The animals were culled, ostensibly, to fight the spread of fever tick spread on cattle at the Laguna Atascosa Wildlife Refuge and contiguous ranches.
But even that has drawn skepticism from hunters and USFW staff at Alguna Atascosa, noting that a minute number of nilgai were found to have the fever tick.
In the 2015 hunt, besides incurring the wrath of  FWS wildlife refuge manager Boyd Blihovde who did not appreciate being singled out as the source of fever-tick infested Nilgai antelope, discussion at the meeting revealed that of some 190 Nilgai killed only four had ticks.
"But the Nilgai is still the problem?,” asked a hunter present at the meet.

Instead, many Cameron County residents are bristling at the idea that the hunts will allow a for-profit company to kill a large amount of animals while they – who pay for their hunting license – are only given a chance at the lottery to hunt the animals on federal land.
"This is highly unfair," said the hunter. "The animal grow here in Cameron County and we're not allowed to hunt them. Then they get to sell the expensive meat for a profit. We have hungry people here, too."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Local hunters would eagerly hunt these animals and gift the meat to the needy. So why give this hunting gift to others....because of the helicopters. Time to think about the "people".