A Holiday Season Pronghorn Gift

Send by email Printer-friendly version Share this

Arizona received an early holiday season gift this year: 39 pronghorn antelope were brought to Arizona from Utah in early December.

In Utah, the antelope had been in an overpopulated herd. Now those animals are helping to fill the void left in our antelope population by the recent drought. "This was another successful cooperative effort involving several states," says wildlife manager Rick Langley of the Arizona Game and Fish Department. "These animals could bring this herd back to healthy numbers."

The antelope were relocated to two locations in the House Rock Valley, which is located south of Vermilion Cliffs and west of the Colorado River at the base of the Kaibab Plateau. Recent rains and changes in grazing practices in the valley have created better habitat and food sources for the antelope. Biologists consider this an ideal time for the transplant.

During the capture phase of the operation, a helicopter was used to run the antelope through a funnel of tall fencing that led to a holding corral. The corral can hold up to 100 animals. Gradually, a few antelope were released from the corral into the arms of people who held the animals and kept them from hurting themselves. Each antelope received an ear tag and had its blood drawn to test for diseases. Then, the antelope were placed in trailers to taken their un-crowded new Arizona home.

State wildlife agencies commonly barter animals, and this move was the result of a transplant of bighorn sheep and turkeys from Arizona to Utah. Utah has given Arizona other antelope in the past.