Local

February 22, 2013

Pronghorn continue to thrive

Tags:
TERESA WALKER
56th Range Management Office

Dan Garcia, 56th Range Management Office En­vironmental Sciences chief, holds the head of a pronghorn while the marking and veterinary team members process it for relocation.

An estimated 85 percent of the U.S. population of Sonoran pronghorn died during a severe drought in 2001 and 2002. They inhabit the Barry M. Goldwater Range, an active military range.

Drastic measures were taken to sustain the remaining 21 animals and recover the species. These measures included provision of emergency water sources, developing forage enhancement plots, and building two semicaptive breeding pens, one on the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge built in 2004, and another in King Valley, on the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, built in 2011.

The Sonoran pronghorn is federally listed as an endangered species in 1967, is the fastest land mammal in North America, clocking speeds up to 60 miles per hour. A desert sub-species of the antelope family, the Sonoran pronghorn is smaller and lighter in color than other pronghorn subspecies and is uniquely adapted for survival in harsh desert conditions.

The Sonoran pronghorn population is currently estimated at more than 150 animals, due to the specific actions of many state and federal agencies to bring the animal back from extinction.

Aaron Alvidrez, 56th Range Management Office wildlife biologist said it’s been a long road to recovery but the results of all the labor are coming to fruition.

“A lot of hard work and teamwork is needed to implement pronghorn recovery actions,” Alvidrez said. “Through teamwork and persistence, we are beginning to see our efforts pay off.”

To minimize operational impacts and gain a better understanding of the animals, the 56th RMO goes to great lengths to ensure the safety of the animals.

Contracted biologists are used to survey and monitor for Sonoran pronghorn in known habitat areas prior to any missions taking place on the range. The pronghorn monitors establish the proximity of the animals to target arrays to ensure their safety.

When pronghorn are present, targets are closed based on their type and proximity to the animals; training and inert ordnance targets within 1 kilometer of sightings are closed for the day; and high explosive hills within 1.5 kilometers of sightings are closed for the day. Typically, scheduled missions are diverted to other targets if available, or canceled if no alternate targets are available.

The RMO employs a modified range maintenance schedule to further reduce potential effects on the Sonoran pronghorn during fawning season.

The annual Sonoran pronghorn capture and release operation in December 2012 was a success due to assistance from many agencies including Arizona Game and Fish, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Luke Air Force Base, Marine Corps Air Station Yuma; the Ajo, Yuma, and Wellton Border Patrol Sectors; Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and the Phoenix Zoo.

According to Alvidrez, the pronghorn capture and release process has evolved and the team continues to improve each year.

“For me, the captures are an exciting event with a lot of moving parts,” he said. “The use of two helicopters and a large veterinary staff helped to transport multiple animals in a relatively short time. During the three-day event, we handled more than 60 animals and reached our goal of relocating 22 target animals.”

The United States and Mexico are currently engaged in an international effort to capture and breed the Sonoran pronghorn for reintroduction into suitable habitats. Capture-breed-transplant actions are considered essential to the survival of the Sonoran pronghorn (commonly referred to as ‘antelope’) as they are one of the most endangered mammals in the world.

The BMGR is primarily used to train pilots but over the years has expanded its scope to allow some limited ground training. In land mass, the range encompasses more than 1.7 million acres, with the Air Force retaining land management responsibilities for more than a million acres on the eastern portion and the Marines approximately 700,000 acres on the western side. The range stretches from Yuma to beyond Gila Bend and from Interstate 8 south to the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge.

Portions of this article were contributed by Arizona Game and Fish Department.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Grace Lee

Pilot saves six Marines earning him the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor

Grace Lee Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, 56th Fighter Wing commander, pins the Air Force Combat Action Medal onto Capt. Aaron Cavazos, 61st Fighter Squadron weapons officer, Jan. 16 in Club Five Six at Luke Air Force Base. Cavazos was...
 
 

Financial responsibility — vital to readiness

In the “Band of Brothers” miniseries, there is a line in the movie where the soldiers are told to make sure they sign up for life insurance to ensure their next-of-kin gets $10,000 upon the soldier’s death. While none of us are about to make a combat jump in 1944 to fight the Nazis, Airmen...
 
 

Adapt, overcome, succeed

Change is inevitable, especially in today’s Air Force. If you’ve been serving for more than a few years, it’s likely you’ve experienced everything from new physical fitness requirements to the implementation of force management programs. Enlisted performance reports and feedback forms have been altered and changes to the promotion system are rapidly approaching. We expect...
 

 
Courtesy Photo

Chrach saves lives, earns recognition

Courtesy Photo Tech. Sgt. Steven Bruner, 56th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, and Chrach, 56th SFS MWD, pose for a photo in Afghanistan during their 2012 deployment. Chrach was recently awarded the 12th A...
 
 

News Briefs January 23, 2015

VH1 concert VH1 and sponsors supporting the event are hosting a Super Bowl Blitz concert featuring Fall Out Boy and Charli XCX at 5 p.m. Jan. 30 in Hangar 999 as a “Thank you” to those who serve in the U.S. military. Members of the Luke community are invited and the concert is free. Service...
 
 
Courtesy Photo

Civilian answers AF call, gets dream job

Courtesy Photo Senior Airman Kristina Inocencio, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron engineer technician, measures the distance from the tree to the building Jan. 15 during survey training at Luke Air Force Base. One of Inocencio’s ...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin