Antelope Herd Under Presure
The Arizona Game and Fish Department is asking the public to report any road-kill antelope they see or have recently seen in the Willow Lake area to help biologists better track that herd.

"We know of two bucks that were killed by cars in May," said Prescott field supervisor Eric Gardner. "Neither of those kills was reported by the drivers that hit the antelope."

One buck was killed on May 20 along the newly constructed Prescott Lakes Parkway near the intersection at Smoketree; the other was killed about May 12 on Willow Lake Road near the Willow Creek Road intersection.

Citizens can report road-kill in the Willow Lake area directly to the Kingman office, (520) 692-7700. "Drivers are sometimes reluctant to report road-kills — maybe because they think they're going to be cited," Gardner said. "But accidentally hitting wildlife with your car is not illegal."

Game and Fish biologists are hoping additional road-kill information will help them track the fate of the Willow Lake antelope herd. With fawn survival extremely low in the Willow Lake herd this year, it's particularly important to document the mortality of the remaining adults. A June 20 survey of the Willow Lake herd found 51 animals: 18 bucks, 32 does and one fawn. Converted into biological terms, that puts the fawn survival for this herd at approximately three fawns per 100 does. "Fawn survival has been dismal at Willow Lake this year," said Bill Ough, area wildlife manager who conducted the survey. "Coyote predation and poor habitat are probably the main causes." With little territory left for the antelope, coyotes had an easier time finding the fawns in their first weeks of life, when they are especially vulnerable.

In contrast, a June 12 survey of the "Deep Well" antelope herd, which occupies the open areas north of Willow Lake and south of Chino Valley, showed a much higher fawn survival. Of the 84 antelope surveyed, 16 were bucks, 40 were does, and 28 were fawns. This translates to 70 fawns for every 100 does. "The Deep Well herd is doing exceptionally well this year," Ough said. "Fawn survival in antelope varies from year to year, but 30 to 40 fawns per 100 does is typical."

A citizen's work group has been developing recommendations for managing the Willow Lake antelope herd, which will eventually be presented to Game and Fish and the Prescott community. This group is composed of individuals with a diversity of views about managing the Willow Lake antelope herd, which has been surrounded by development and faces increasing loss of habitat. The workgroup was developed after a March public meeting about the management of the antelope.

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