Winter Freeze ‘Crushed’ Non-Native Deer

“It caught them at a really vulnerable time.”

By Michael Marks & Caroline CovingtonMarch 3, 2021 3:07 pm,

Exotic animal ranches are booming in Texas. They offer hunters a chance to track down an animal from some far flung corner of the planet without straying too far from home. But importing animals from other climates can have big consequences. Many animals native to other continents perished during last month’s extreme winter freeze.

Wes Ferguson, senior editor at Texas Monthly, wrote about exotic animals and the freeze for the magazine. One person he interviewed counted several dead axis deer near his home in Luckenbach. Axis deer are native to India, but there are at least 125,000 of them now in Texas.

“They’re from hot climates that don’t get that cold. We’ve known that they don’t do well in the cold, even in a regular winter. But then when something like this hits, it just it just crushes them,” Ferguson said.

Highlights from this segment:

– It’s unclear how many axis deer perished in the storm. But Ferguson says February is prime time for reproduction. “It caught them at a really vulnerable time,” he said.

– Ranchers were giving away scimitar horned oryx that had perished, so the meat wouldn’t be wasted.

– Texas is the epicenter for the exotic game industry in the United States, and the industry is very lightly regulated.

– Ferguson doesn’t expect the storm to do long-term damage to the exotic game business, however. That’s partly because their populations need to be controlled so they don’t overtake native species. Plus, they will likely reproduce fairly quickly, and population numbers should bounce back to normal.

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