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12/24/2013 12:26:00 PM
Game & Fish will host Prescott Valley meeting in January to discuss pronghorn relocation
Capture, relocation to take place in January
Special to the Tribune

The Arizona Game and Fish Department will host a public meeting in Prescott Valley to discuss an upcoming pronghorn capture in central Yavapai County.

The meeting will be from 6-8 p.m., on Jan. 8, at the Prescott Valley Public Library. Game and Fish biologists will be on hand to conduct a presentation and answer questions. A representative with the Arizona Antelope Foundation will also be in attendance.

In 2013 complications and potential risk to pronghorn led to a decision by Game and Fish personnel to cancel a capture planned in January.

This meeting will include discussion about the need to relocate pronghorn, the health of herds around Prescott, and mortality rates.

"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. "There are a number of techniques that can be used when capturing pronghorn and we waited an extra year to use the method that has the highest survival rates.

"The plan is to use a traditional corral-style trap where the pronghorn are essentially funneled into the trap."

The goal of this effort is to assist several struggling populations of pronghorn in an area south of Tucson. The location 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 jump over fences and, as a result, fencing about 18 inches off the ground is critical to allow pronghorn to go underneath.

"There is a dire need to get pronghorn into the area, but we want to make sure it is done right," Butler said. "It is relocation efforts such as this that have brought elk and black-footed ferrets back to Arizona and bighorn sheep relocations have restored herds to areas where they were once extirpated."

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.

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