Texas Hunter Who Paid $350k to Kill a Black Rhino in Namibia Gets a Permit to Bring it Back

Categories: Animal Welfare

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The trophy is coming back to North Texas. Corey Knowlton, the Royse City hunter who bought the right to kill a Namibian black rhino at a Dallas Safari Club auction in January 2014 , has been approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to bring his spoils back from Africa.

See also: The Dallas Safari Club Will Save the Endangered Black Rhino by Auctioning Off the Chance to Shoot One

"The future of Africa's wildlife is threatened by poaching and illegal wildlife trade, not responsible, scientifically managed sport hunting," USFWS Service Director Dan Ashe said in a statement. "We remain committed to combating heinous wildlife crimes while supporting activities that empower and encourage local communities to be a part of the solution."

The USFWS says that the hunting permit purchased by Knowlton and issued by the Namibian government helps preserve the endangered species:

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As Texas Horse Park Preps Opening, Operator Wayne Kirk Is Being Sued by His Ex-Employer

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Eric Nicholson
City officials unveil the new sculpture at the Texas Horse Park; Wayne Kirk is third from the right.
When Mayor Mike Rawlings and sundry other dignitaries gathered in Pleasant Grove last month to unveil the almost-open Texas Horse Park's enormous new sculpture, there was much self-congratulatory gushing, multiple allusions to an imagined horse/cowboy culture, even a laughable pitch by Councilman Tennell Atkins for the Trinity toll road ("We'll probably need that parkway also to bring more people here to get here without congestion in this part of town"). Missing from the morning's oratory was any mention of River Ranch Educational Charities founder Wayne Kirk, the guy the city chose to run the bulk of the facility, rent-free, for the next couple of decades.

The omission was understandable. Kirk has been a source of embarrassment for the horse park since it was revealed that he'd previously been accused of mistreating horses on River Ranch's property in McKinney and had a less-than-pristine business background: allegations of fraud from people who bought oil and gas securities from him, claims of unpaid rent on two ranches he leased before moving to McKinney, a remarkable trail of lawsuits.

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The Dark Side of the Dallas World Aquarium

Categories: Animal Welfare

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Jay R Simonson
The Dallas World Aquarium's entrance.
You hear it, or see it if you're online, every time someone asks what they should do while visiting Dallas. One of the quickest responses is always 'go check out the Dallas World Aquarium.' Some mention of penguins or rare birds and how it's a little expensive ($20.95) but worth it usually follows.

An article published yesterday by The New Republic's Ben Crair is enough to give any potential advocates for the aquarium second thoughts.

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Teddy Bear, Dallas' Talking Porcupine, Is America's Best Super Bowl Pundit

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YouTube screenshot

By the ordinary laws of Internet fame, the universe should have long ago forgotten Teddy Bear the talking porcupine. It's been three years his emergence as a viral celebrity, roughly 8.6 billion years in Internet time. Adorable though he may be, with his vaguely anthropomorphic squeaks and amusing dietary quirks, he should have been supplanted by a flatulent gerbil or trombone-playing ferret or something.

And Teddy Bear would indeed be irrelevant were it not for one highly lucrative skill: He can correctly pick the winner of the Super Bowl. Since 2012, when he first thrust his snout into football punditry, Teddy Bear is a perfect 3-0, accurately forecasting that the Giants, Ravens and Seahawks would win Super Bowls XLVI, XLVII and XLVIII, respectively.

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In Another Texas Vs. Endangered Species Battle, Texas Wins Again

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U.S. Department of Agriculture
Every winter, the world's only flock of wild whooping cranes flies into Texas and stays along the Texas Gulf Coast, using water near the Aransas Pass. Maybe one day in the future, Greg Abbott can require the whopping cranes to obtain a permit before they take advantage of our state's diminishing natural resources. In the meantime, state officials are at least enjoying recent legal victory against a group that has been suing to protect the birds. Texas 1, majestic whooping cranes 0.

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Bentley the Ebola Dog's Monitoring Cost $27,000

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Dallas Animal Services
He's an expensive little bugger.
Of the just more than $155,000 the city of Dallas spent responding to Ebola, almost $27,000 -- just more than 17 percent of the total -- went to caring for Bentley, Nina Pham's King Charles Spaniel. The majority of the Bentley cash, $17,057.46, was spent on getting Grand Prairie Armed Forces Reserve Complex ready for the dog's stay and providing security at the former Naval Air Station.

The single biggest item on the full list, which you can check out below, was the $58,000-plus Dallas Fire and Rescue spent on hazmat response. It cost $18,824 to pay the paramedics subjected to 21-day quarantines after contact with the first diagnosed U.S. Ebola patient, Thomas Eric Duncan.

The city won't bear the full brunt of the bill. It is seeking reimbursement of some costs from the state and about $19,000 of Bentley's burden will be covered by grants and donations.

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63,000 People Don't Want Royse City Man to Shoot a Black Rhino to Save Black Rhinos

Categories: Animal Welfare

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Matthew Field
Shooting one of these guys is hard enough, but just try to bring it back home.
Corey Knowlton has a problem.

The Royse City hunter, who paid $350,000 in a Dallas Safari Club auction for the right to kill a black rhino in Namibia, may not receive a permit to bring his trophy back from Africa.

As Eric Nicholson first reported for Unfair Park in October 2013, the reasoning behind issuing Knowlton's permit had a certain logic. Namibia allows for up to five post-reproductive-age male rhinos to be killed for sport each year to raise money for black rhino conservation. It's state-sponsored creative species destruction, if you will.

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Bentley Is an Extremely Cute Dog, But Tomorrow's Press Conference Is Insane

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Dallas Animal Services
Maybe we should leave them alone.
As of Tuesday, Amber Vinson and Nina Pham, the two Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital nurses to get Ebola after treating Thomas Eric Duncan, are Ebola-free. It's remarkable, inspiring news. Seeing the two speak at their post-release press conference was, in a way, like seeing someone back from the dead.

Then there's Bentley. Bentley, as you surely know, is Pham's impish, year-old King Charles Spaniel. After Pham's diagnosis, he was taken from her Marquita Avenue duplex to be monitored for signs of Ebola at Hensley Field in Grand Prairie. The dog's now officially Ebola free, so he's going to be reunited with Pham tomorrow.

That's awesome.

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Fort Worth Vet Indicted for Creepy Dog Blood-Harvesting Scheme

Categories: Animal Welfare

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Millard "Lou" Tierce is the Fort Worth veterinarian who was allegedly harvesting blood from dogs he was supposed to euthanize until his office was raided earlier this year.

Tierce, whose vet license was suspended last week, was initially arrested on a charge of animal cruelty. Somehow, though, a misdemeanor, as animal cruelty is classified under Texas law, didn't seem sufficient for so grotesque a crime. Which may explain why, when Tierce was indicted today, prosecutors had secured two additional charges: misapplication of fiduciary property and theft between $1,500 and $20,000, both state jail felonies.

The animal-cruelty charge is fairly cut and dry. The two stiffer charges are rather curious and hinge on a question that's never really been settled under Texas law: How much is a dog worth?

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The Cruel and Unusual Building of the Texas Horse Park

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Dylan Hollingsworth
Kevin Woods wanted to work with the Texas Horse Park. He ended up getting stampeded by it.
Hunched over a table at a Jack in the Box, Kevin Woods doesn't look much like a cowboy. No hat, no belt buckle, no boots, not a horse in sight. Here, tucked between a cluster of warehouses and a bustling urban highway, is about as far from the open range as a Texan can be. With his plain red T-shirt lightly dusted with sheetrock, and his calloused hands entwined in front of him, he looks like the home-repair contractor that he is. But it's a cowboy's blood that runs through Woods. This is a man who's broken wild mustangs and wrestled half-ton steers to submission in soft dirt, who can rope a calf and shoe a horse, who's as comfortable in the saddle as behind the wheel of a truck.

Woods was born into farm life in Stamps, Arkansas, a hollowed-out agricultural town a few miles north of the Louisiana border. He left as fast as he could, fleeing for Toledo, Ohio at 14. He took with him his fondness for horses and livestock, but his passion lay fallow for several years as he clawed for survival. He slept on the streets and rummaged through garbage cans for scraps before he fell in with a gang, started dealing drugs and pulled himself out of homelessness.

"I was one of the drug dealers you didn't want to meet on the streets," he says. "I'm the one Momma warned you about. You know, like I said, I was taught in the school of hard knocks."

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