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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Wolves cannot be blamed for the shrinking Pronghorn population in the Delta-Mesa region of Colorado...................100 animals cling to life in the Delta-Mesa under quickly drying and hotter conditions that is compromising the herds foraging prospects..............Less food means smaller fawn recruitment and the downward trajectory that wildlife officials are witnessing there.........................Putting out watering troughs similar to what domestic cattle utilize is not the answer.........................Habitat alteration due to oil and gas drilling, barbwire fencing and general human infrastructure is likely keeping the "Antelope" from finding the life giving water that they need.

Preserving the Pronghorns: Parks and Wildlife's Project

DELTA-MESA COUNTY, Colo.- Over the past ten years, the pronghorn herd near the Delta-Mesa County line has dramatically decreased.

According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, hundreds of these antelopes used to roam the Grand Mesa slopes, and now only 100 are left.

Biologists with Parks and Wildlife are conducting a study to see how to strengthen this once flourishing population.

Each week biologists monitor the small antelope herd by telemetry or a flyover.

"This population was pretty vibrant for a long time and we hunted them up until three years ago. We've now eliminated all licenses out in that particular area with the hope that in the next few years we can try and start hunting again," explains JT Romatzke, Wildlife Manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

In the winter of 2012, 19 pronghorns were captured from the Delta-Mesa county line.

"10 of those had radio collars, the others had neck bands and ear tags. Of the radio collared, we vaccinated five of those," explains Brad Banulis, a biologist for Parks and Wildlife.

The team also brought in 24 pronghorns from southeastern Colorado

"These populations are abundant. That's why we chose that location out on the Front Range, to try and get antelope to bring over to this part of the country," explains Romatzke.

Similar to the locally captured, all of the neck banded and five of the radio collared were vaccinated.

"We're looking at a lot of different factors with this antelope herd. We're looking at the drought, the deteriorating habitat conditions out on the landscape, we're looking at the disease factors, we're looking at predation," comments Romatzke.

With technology, biologists were able to follow these animals last summer and the results were significant, though unsettling.

"We didn't get an opportunity to see as many fawns hit the ground, as well as actually persist through the summer," says Banulis.

Which lead biologists to believe drought conditions are crucial.

"Through the summer the female doe needs more water. They're going to need higher quality forage, so that they can support those fawns through lactation," explains Banulis.

"Probably the bigger one is the availability of nutrition on the range. We're trying to partner up with the Bureau of Land Management, oil and gas companies, and private land owners to go out and try and get some base line information about where it's at now compared to the historical data that we have for that range," comments Romatzke.

With this breakthrough Parks and Wildlife have added a new tool to the experiment.

"These guzzlers get rainwater in them, and the rain water is collected. (These guzzlers) offer a source of water out this in a desert-like environment. We're excited about that. We already have some of the antelope utilizing that," explains Romatzke.

Although Parks and Wildlife may have found a solution, it is only a piece to the problem.

"It's our job and our responsibility to go out there and actually figure out what's going on," adds Romatzke.

Parks and Wildlife plans on continuing the pronghorn project for the next five years.

During that time period, biologists will be monitoring, intensely looking for recruitment, and studying what the fawns on the ground look like

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