August 29, 2016

BRI PRONGHORN TRANSLOCATION ON NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, YETI WEBSITES

by Steve Lang, Sul Ross News and Publications

pronghorn running

Pronghorn bolt across the Trans-Pecos after translocation. (Photo by Ben Masters)

While Sul Ross State University researchers are pleased with pronghorn relocation and reproduction results, they are overwhelmed by the response to an online documentary film.

“Pronghorn Revival,” a YETI short film directed by Ben Masters, received a virtual stampede of viewers since it first aired on the YETI website Monday, Aug. 22.

“It has been viewed over 100,000 times, and it came out yesterday,” said Dr. Louis Harveson, Sul Ross professor of Natural Resource Management and endowed director of the Borderlands Research Institute (BRI).

“It is surreal that that many people tuned in so quickly,” he said.

Through Friday (Aug. 26), the film had over 350,000 views.

Masters’ blog, “Pronghorn Relocation,” was posted on the National Geographic website, coinciding with the six-minute documentary on the Yeti website and Facebook page. The film and blog summarized January 2016 pronghorn translocation efforts by the BRI, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), private landowners and the TPW Foundation.

Over 100 pronghorn were captured and transported from the Dalhart area in the Texas Panhandle to sites near Marfa in the Trans-Pecos. Since 2011, more than 500 animals have been relocated from the Panhandle to the Trans-Pecos, where herd numbers reached an all-time recorded low (about 3,000) in 2013. Data gathered during and after relocations is used by researchers to study the effects of disease, habitat, man-made barriers (primarily fences) and weather conditions.

Harveson and BRI research associate Thomas Janke, GSD, are featured in the film and quoted in the blog.

“Based on the number of views, there is a tremendous appreciation for the efforts of the university, the students and everyone involved in this enormous restoration project,” Harveson said. “It is obvious that the translocation efforts have had a positive impact (on restoring regional pronghorn numbers), based on survey results.”

Masters, a Texas native and Texas A&M graduate in wildlife biology, is a documentary film producer most known for “Unbranded,” the 2013 story (in book and film) in which he and three other Aggies adopted 16 wild horses from the Bureau of Land Management, trained them, and rode 3,000 miles from Mexico to Canada through the American West

As a guide, horse packer, former ranch manager and photographer who enjoys “playing outdoors,” Masters learned of the BRI-TPWD pronghorn translocation efforts from his editor at Texas A&M Press.

“The project sounded amazing, and I was connected with Dr. Harveson,” Masters said in a phone interview. “We wanted to do the film production right and needed good partners. YETI has provided support for lots of conservation efforts and organizations, and when I told them about the pronghorn revival project, they were really supportive and allowed us to make it happen.”

Masters said he was very impressed with the cooperation between the BRI, TPWD, private landowners and other participants to create an ongoing successful venture.

“For legal problems, you consult a lawyer. When you have a physical problem, you go to a doctor. But land owners and land managers sometimes do not go to professionals even though land management can be far more complex than a legal issue or the human body,” he said.

“The ability to connect researchers, government entities, private landowners and conservation groups while compiling this critical data is truly commendable,” he said. “I am really inspired by the entire Sul Ross effort, the students and faculty and what they stand for. I think it’s (project) amazing.”

“Pronghorn Revival,” along with several other Wild Texas Short Films, will be viewed at a public screening Thursday, Oct. 20 at Stanley’s Farm House Pizza, Austin. Harveson will be present to discuss the pronghorn translocation and other BRI research projects. For more information on the screening,┬ávisit the event page.

For more information, contact Dr. Louis Harveson, (432) 837-8225 or harveson@sulross.edu.