Commission Agenda Item No. 7
Presenter:  Shawn Gray

Pronghorn Translocation Update
March 31, 2011

I.       Executive Summary:  Wildlife Division Mule Deer and Pronghorn Program Leader Shawn Gray will briefly update the Commission on the recent pronghorn translocation effort.

II.      Discussion:  Because of recent population declines in the Trans-Pecos and continued growth in Panhandle populations, TPWD partnered with Sul Ross State University (SRSU) in a pronghorn restoration project to relocate 400 pronghorn over the next two years.

The Trans-Pecos Pronghorn Working Group (TPPWG) was able to raise more than $100,000 for the restoration project.  Contributions were the result of a benefit dinner/dance hosted by the TPPWG, and matching funds ($50,000) donated  by the Dixon Water Trust and Horizon Foundations.  Additional funding has also been pledged by the West Texas Chapter of Safari Club International (SCI).  These private donations provided match toward Pittman-Robertson funds to finance the restoration project.

During February 23–26, TPWD, SRSU, private wildlife veterinarians, and Quicksilver Air, Inc. were successful in translocating 194 pronghorn from the Dalhart area to the Marfa Plateau.  This effort is the most extensive helicopter net-gun operation that TPWD has ever attempted for pronghorn and is one of the largest pronghorn transfers in decades.

All animals had blood collected for disease and pregnancy testing, and were injected with vitamins, antibiotics, and sedatives to minimize capture myopathy.  Eighty of the pronghorn were fitted with radio-collars to monitor post-release survival and investigate a number of factors critical to a successful restoration project.  Two-weeks post release only six of the radio-collared animals had perished.  Several animals have moved 8–10 miles from their release site.  No pattern on social organization has emerged with some individuals forming smaller groups, while others have joined larger herds.  However, most of the relocated pronghorn are commingling with residents.

Thanks to tremendous support and teamwork from landowners, TPWD Leadership, SRSU, wildlife veterinarians, Wildlife Division staff, other divisions (LE and Communications), and the capture company, this initial phase of the restoration project has been a great achievement.