Pronghorn Antelope Take a Ride

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In an effort to increase pronghorn antelope numbers statewide, the Nevada Division of Wildlife (NDOW) spent the third week of January, relocating antelope from areas with high numbers to areas with low populations. A total of 269 antelope were captured with 214 antelope, mostly does and fawns, being relocated. The antelope were released in Butte Valley and Jake’s Valley in White Pine County, Ione Valley in Nye County, and Cave Valley in Lincoln County.

One-hundred-sixty-two animals were removed from Boulder Valley located in northern Eureka County, while 52 antelope were taken from the Deeth area in Elko County. They were removed from these areas in an effort to keep the number of animals at a level that the winter range will support. All the release sites have habitat that can handle a higher number of antelope than are currently there.

Hunters can look forward to enhanced hunting opportunities in the release areas depending on how the herds do. The area where the antelope came from is so productive, the numbers in that area will likely recover within a couple of years.

Every two years updates its capture and transplant plan to move wildlife to areas of need. Most of these plans include moving animals between different states. However, this was the first time in the last fifteen years that antelope have been moved within the state and the first time that antelope have been trapped in the eastern region.

“We learned a lot on this project. Now we know it can be done in the Eastern Region,” explained Larry Gilbertson, NDOW’s Eastern Region Supervising Game Biologist.

The antelope trap was provided by Wyoming Game & Fish as part of a cooperative effort between states. While most people think of Wyoming as the antelope capital of the world, few know that Nevada provided Wyomings with antelope back in the 1950s to help build their state populations.

The trap consisted of a large portable corral with wings several hundred feet long set up in a funnel shape. The animals were herded into the funnel with a helicopter. The trap door was then closed, trapping from six to 40 animals and a canvas curtain was pulled down around the corral to reduce stress on the trapped animals.

If animals refused to enter the trap, a net gun was used to shoot a large net over a group of antelope to keep them from running. Agency personnel and volunteers on the ground then hobbled the animals and prepared them for transporting.

The age and sex of each antelope was determined and a numbered ear tag was attached. Mature bucks were released while does and fawns were loaded into trailers and taken to the release sites.

Does were targeted for relocation because of the need to increase the future numbers in the release areas. The bucks were ear tagged to help identify winter range and summer range and to identify movement patterns in the capture area.

The relocation project was funded by the Wildlife Heritage fund. Money for the fund comes from sportsmen fees and contributions and from big game tag auctions. The Partners in Wildlife (PIW) program also provides money to the Heritage Fund from donations sportsmen make for a chance at special tags if they are unsuccessful in the first draw. This program offers sportsmen the chance to donate money to efforts, such as this antelope relocation, that are intended to enhance hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities for the future.