To Save Antelope
|A significant decrease in Arizona's Anderson Mesa pronghorn antelope population is prompting the Arizona Game and Fish Department to initiate coyote control measures during the prime fawning period.
The Game and Fish Department is contracting with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to remove coyotes by aerial gunning in Game Management Units 5A and 5B during the next several weeks.
The Anderson Mesa antelope herd has suffered for more than a decade from low fawn survival and recruitment. Since 1990, the average fawn recruitment has been 11 fawns per 100 does. This is well below the number necessary to sustain a healthy antelope population, which is at least 40 fawns per 100 does.
"This antelope herd really needs a few years of good fawn survival to maintain the population until habitat improvement projects can provide a long-term solution to the fawn survival problem," says Game and Fish Department Game Specialist John Goodwin.
Since 2001, a collaborative work group, which includes individuals from the Coconino National Forest, Diablo Trust, the Hopi Tribe, the Arizona Wildlife Federation, the Arizona State Land Department, the Arizona Antelope Foundation and the Arizona Game and Fish Department, has been developing proposals to improve this antelope herd.
In 2002, the group created the Anderson Mesa Pronghorn Operational Plan that provides a multi-faceted approach to saving these pronghorn. The plan includes activities such as fence inventory, pinyon/juniper clearing, prescribed fire, aerial gunning of coyotes, nutrition and disease research, elk herd management, livestock grazing modification and other projects.
Habitat work can take a long time before antelope benefit from the results. Therefore, the collaborative work group proposed a three-year program of coyote control methods during the time of year when antelope fawns are about to be born.
In 2002, areas where coyote removal occurred had a fawn survival of 14 fawns to 100 does. In areas where coyote removal did not occur, fawn survival was only nine fawns per 100 does.
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