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home : latest news : local February 6, 2016

12/3/2012 9:19:00 AM
Game and Fish meeting here Tuesday explains plans to capture, move pronghorn
Pronghorn graze in the grasslands near Glassford Hill Road and Highway 89A in Prescott Valley.
File photo courtesy Les Stukenberg
Pronghorn graze in the grasslands near Glassford Hill Road and Highway 89A in Prescott Valley.
File photo courtesy Les Stukenberg

The Arizona Game and Fish Department will host a public meeting in Prescott Valley Tuesday about future pronghorn captures in central Yavapai County.

The meeting runs from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Prescott Valley Public Library, 7501 E. Civic Circle.

Game and Fish biologists will conduct a short presentation and answer questions. Members of the Arizona Antelope Foundation will also be in attendance.

Complications and potential risk to pronghorn led to a decision by Game and Fish personnel to cancel an pronghorn capture and relocation effort planned for January.

Tuesday's meeting will include discussion about the need to relocate pronghorn, the health of herds around Prescott, why the capture was cancelled, and plans for the future.

"The goal in any capture is to reduce the risk to the animal," said Erin Butler, game specialist with the Game and Fish Region 3 office in Kingman. "While the need to relocate is apparent, we have to examine all the risks associated with any particular capture."

Butler said relocation efforts will resume in 2014.

The goal is to help a struggling population of pronghorn in an area south of Tucson near Elgin, an area that has undergone extensive habitat improvement projects. Areas invaded by mesquite have been returned to grasslands, and fence modifications were done to free pronghorn movement.

Butler explained that fence modifications are necessary because pronghorn will rarely, if ever, jump over fences. So fence wire about 18 inches off the ground is critical to allow pronghorn to go underneath.

"The population near Elgin has been depleted to a point that the herd will not survive without intervention," Butler explained. "There is a dire need to get pronghorn into the area, but we want to make sure it is done right."

Butler said plans to net-gun pronghorn has been used routinely for research, but it has not been used for this species in relocations.

"It is common with bighorn sheep, but hasn't been explored for pronghorn," she said. "We've used a traditional corral-style trap where the pronghorn are essentially funneled into the trap.

"By taking a year off, we can look at getting clearance to set up the traditional trap and more thoroughly explore the risk factors of net-gunning."

Once moved, Tombstone High School Future Farmers of America students will be monitoring the relocated animals remotely and on-site. Students will look at movement patterns and examine potential mortality issues.

Game and Fish is hoping to get more schools involved in such efforts in the future.

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