Game wardens search for zebra hunter

Texas game wardens are searching for the person or persons who fatally shot this zebra without permission June 5 at Forks Ranch, which is in Wharton, Lavaca and Colorado counties.

You can hunt a zebra in Texas, but it has to be your zebra, and if it’s not, you’d better have permission from its owner.

Texas Game Wardens are searching for the person or persons who killed a zebra without that permission.

They say the zebra was found dead from a gunshot wound June 5 at Forks Ranch near Provident City, which is 25 miles southeast of Hallettsville.

They’re offering a $1,000 reward for any information leading to a conviction.

Game Warden Adam Clark said the shooter could be charged with hunting without a landowner’s consent, which is a class A misdemeanor, or trespassing.

Clark declined to give the exact location of the ranch, which cannot be found on Google, Facebook or any appraisal district’s website. He also declined to say whether the zebra was kept as a pet or kept for the purposes of hunting.

“In this county alone, in Lavaca County, there’s probably easily 20 to 30 exotic animals that aren’t native to this state in these game-proof fences whether they are from Africa or from Asia,” Clark said.

Hunting zebras can be big business.

The Texas Hunt Lodge, which is about an hour from San Antonio, charges people about $4,750 for a chance to hunt Grant’s zebras, which is a subspecies of plains zebras, year-round, for example.

People with a hunting license can choose to spot and stalk them or hunt them with bows, rifles or handguns or from a blind. The ranch says it will also accommodate hunters of all ages and experiences as well as hunters who use wheelchairs.

People disagree, of course, about whether hunting exotic animals should be allowed.

Hunters say it promotes conservation, while animal rights activists describe it as cruel and lazy.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials said Thursday the department didn’t have statistics on how often people poach exotic animals in the state because they may not be reported or it could fall in the jurisdiction of other law enforcement agencies in the state.

“I wouldn’t characterize it as a widespread problem,” Steve Lightfoot, an agency spokesman, said. “Well over 95 percent of all hunting activity is done legally, and so as with anything, there’s going to be some outliers who try to circumvent the laws and the rules.”

There are three different types of zebras — plains zebra, Grévy’s zebra and mountain zebra — and they can all weigh up to about 1,000 pounds.

The Plains zebra is most common. The Grévy’s zebra is endangered, and mountain zebra is threatened. The threats they face, according to the San Diego Zoo, are loss of habitat, poaching and disease.

Clark didn’t know what kind of zebra was killed locally.

“It all falls under the same laws regardless of subspecies,” he said.

Jessica Priest reports on the environment and Calhoun County for the Victoria Advocate. She may be reached at jpriest@vicad.com or 361-580-6521.

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Former Environment/Investigations Reporter

Jessica Priest worked for the Victoria Advocate from August 2012-September 2019, first as the courts reporter and then as the environment/investigations reporter. Read her work now at www.jessicapriest.me.

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