Legislation Reclassifying Elk as ‘Exotic’

Legislation Reclassifying Elk as ‘Exotic’

Here is the legislation that changed Texas’ native elk from treasured, protected game animals to vermin that are shot on sight at all state-managed lands in far-West Texas. The legislative declaration that elk are not native is scientifically incorrect and meaningless.


This legislation was introduced under the normal “radar,” declaring an “emergency,” thereby avoiding the three required readings intended to give notice to the public. It was passed before word got around.


TPWD says the law mandates its elk removals. It does not — removals are agency policy.

Source: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Open Records Request

Efforts to change the legislative mistake fall victim to turf guarding between exotic wildlife ranchers, TPWD and Texas Health Commission. Conservation organizations, landowner rights groups and elk and wildlife advocates avert their eyes, fearing that speaking up for Texas’ elk might offend the agencies.


As a result, Texas elk hunters and wildlife enthusiasts must travel out-of-state to find costly hunting and viewing opportunities. Landowners lose a potential revenue stream from hunts and nature tourism; and, land appreciation.


Ranching, wildlife management, finance, oil & gas, real estate development and management.
    • Texas has had an ongoing effort to privatize the ownership of wild animals for many years. When you mix in the invasive species theories and the industrial agricultural practices of the universities and agencies, you get these perverse outcomes.

  • Leaving for my third archery elk hunt this Friday, it saddens me that I will most likely never be able to hunt elk in my home state. My only chance is to draw a Black Gap WMA rifle mule deer tag through the Texas draw system. An almost impossible feat on its on. Then I would have to be fortunate enough to stumble upon the elk in public lands. It is a shame the State doesn’t better manage the herd.

    Has the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation made a statement regarding the Texas herd of elk?

    • Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) sidesteps the issue by saying that they will support elk if the state ever changes the law. This is a cop-out because the law will not change without advocacy from wildlife conservation groups starting with RMEF. RMEF’s largest contingent and funding source are Texas’ elk supporters. RMEF’s Texans are being used as a cash cow by a bureaucracy which is integrated with the federal and state agencies, with whom they will not break ranks. Our universities, so-called wildlife conservation organizations and wildlife agencies are in some version of this: hunkered down in the tall grass instead of speaking up for Texas’ elk.

      Everybody knows this is scientifically bogus and wrong to wildlife. But they won’t speak up.

      • What an insane statistic. One of the leading conservation groups in North America, and they won’t even do their part to help the state that supports them the most. I’ve listened to Randy Newberg’s podcast “Hunt Talk”, and he has interviewed the founders RMEF. In the short time I’ve heard them talk, they seem like good guys who are doing as much as they can for the conservation of wildlife and fighting anti-hunting activists. This is just a subject where they’ve missed the mark.

        In your response to Luis above, you make the comment that Texas has had an ongoing effort to privatize the ownership of wild animals. This is the exact opposite goal of Theodore Roosevelt and Boone and Crockett Club. As they began making laws and restrictions on conserving land and the animals that inhabited it, they were getting away from the European model of the outdoors where only the elite have the capabilities to hunt. Texas is almost exactly like the model we were trying to leave, over 90% of the land is public, with next to no opportunities for public land hunting. Shortly out of college, I simply cannot afford to buy land or pay for a lease fee. I go on one archery day lease hunt a year with my family, and if it wasn’t for the public lands in the west where I’ve been able to go on these amazing adventure hunts into the backcountry, my hunting would be limited to almost nothing.

        I admire you Mr. Gill, because even though you’ve been very successful in your career, and have amassed large tracts of private land, you are managing it in such a way that it’s better for the ecological habitat and used for a means of conservation rather than straight income, at least from what I can tell.

        • Hello Justin,

          There are many fine people in all of these organizations. Their collective actions are generally devoid of holistic thinking, and as a result, often directly opposed to their stated purposes. This is true across all agencies, not just wildlife.

          Texas wildlife policy has a bad case of schizophrenia: by law, animals belong to the public but in practice they are increasingly treated as private property. Science is not followed in wildlife management, this law and its perverse consequences is just one case in point.

          National parks and state lands could be opened to public hunting but agency actions are causing wildlife populations to decline on these lands so that possibility is moot. Meanwhile, increasing wild elk numbers anywhere in far-West Texas and affording the animal the protection all native game animals need, will increase hunting opportunities, lower costs, and afford income opportunities to landowners who will never see a sheep permit.

          We try to make a profit including from wildlife, but we give social and environmental outcomes the same priority as net income. That is the heart of holistic planning, which is a decision-making process not a grazing system. In unison these lead to sustainable outcomes.

          Thank you for your kind words. Please speak up for Texas’ elk: They cannot speak for themselves.

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