Extreme Drought Kills Big Game

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Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists are attributing extreme drought conditions to the sharp rise in the number of road-killed pronghorn they have documented this spring in the tri-city area.

Since March, biologists have documented 19 pronghorn killed by vehicles along Chino Valley and Prescott Valley roads. Fifteen of those were found in April. Game and Fish biologists have also found four road-killed deer and a javelina along Prescott and Prescott Valley roads.

An additional pronghorn was found mortally wounded after becoming trapped in an ornamental vine in a Prescott Valley residential yard early Friday morning. Drought conditions are causing pronghorn and other wildlife to concentrate in the few areas where they can find green vegetation, such as along roads and in residential areas.

"These dry conditions are making it really tough for them right now," said Wildlife Manager Darren Tucker. "We're seeing pronghorn in areas we rarely -- if ever -- encounter them."

Game and Fish biologists typically see some road-killed pronghorn in the dry summer months, but rarely this early in the year and not in these numbers. Of the pronghorn killed, 17 have been does, which are usually pregnant with twins or have just given birth this time of year.

Game and Fish is encouraging people to watch carefully for wildlife along roads, and discouraging homeowners from leaving water or food out for wildlife.

"It's best for wildlife if they do not learn to search residential areas for food and water," Tucker said. "That just leads to more problems in the long-run, including road-kills."

Game and Fish biologists are also reminding the public to leave seemingly 'orphaned' wildlife, especially pronghorn fawns, alone. Game and Fish has already discovered two cases of newborn fawns being 'rescued' by well-meaning people in Prescott Valley. Such 'rescues' actually turn healthy, well-cared-for fawns into orphans.

A fawn may seem abandoned, but the mother is actually close by even if she is not in plain view. Unless she's nursing, she keeps her distance to avoid attracting predators to her young.

"It's natural to want to help these young animals," Tucker said, "But as hard as it may seem, the best thing you can do for that young animal is to leave it alone. The mother will return once you leave."