February 3, 2014

SUL ROSS, TPWD TRANSPORT PRONGHORN TO MARFA AREA 

http://www.sulross.edu/sites/default/files/sites/default/files/users/images/news_pubs/pronghorn_capture_0_0.jpgFor the third time in four years, the Borderlands Research Institute (BRI) at Sul Ross State University and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) relocated pronghorn from the Texas Panhandle to the Trans-Pecos.

Last week, 102 pronghorn were captured on ranches near Pampa, then transported southeast of Marfa. The relocation process was coordinated by TPWD and the BRI to restore declining populations in the Trans-Pecos.

To date, TPWD and BRI have translocated 425 pronghorn from the Panhandle to the Trans-Pecos, where their populations have declined at alarming rates.

Pronghorn are captured by helicopter, using net guns. Upon capture, their ankles are hobbled and eyes covered. The captured animals are placed in large bags, then transported by helicopter to the capture processing site.

At the capture site, workers take each animal's temperature to monitor stress, along with blood, tissue and feces samples for disease surveillance. The pronghorns also receive a mild sedative and other injections to minimize stress related to capture and transport. Ear tags are attached, and many of the captured pronghorn are fitted with radio collars to monitor survival and movements. The collars will provide one GPS location per hour.

After processing, the pronghorn were placed in trailers and transported eight hours to their new location. Since 2011, pronghorn have been relocated to the Trans-Pecos, at sites west of Marfa (2011), in the Marathon Basin (2013) and now southeast of Marfa. No relocation was made in 2012 due to extreme drought conditions.

“After conducting similar operations in two of the last three years, we have really improved the capture and transport process,” said Dr. Louis Harveson, Sul Ross professor of Natural Resource Management and BRI director.

“Each year, we have had better results in our operations and this year’s effort was very successful,” Harveson said. “Texas Parks and Wildlife has done an excellent job on not only coordinating the capture sites among the landowners surrounding Pampa (our source location this year), but also in preparing the release site near Marfa. We are estimating that over 100 miles of fence were modified so that pronghorn can freely move between pastures.”