Island Park, Idaho
Volunteers from three southeast Idaho organizations participated recently in an Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) project to radio collar pronghorn. The operation started in Shotgun Valley and moved westward through the Kilgore country to the I-15 corridor between Dubois and Monida Pass. Participants were members of the Idaho Chapter of Safari Club International, Friends of Camas National Wildlife Refuge, and Henrys Fork Wildlife Alliance.
Last winter nearly 100 pronghorn were killed by train collisions near Hamer in Jefferson County. The Idaho Chapter of Safari Club International applied for a Challenge Grant from IDFG to mitigate pronghorn deaths from train collisions. Safari Club International, Friends of Camas, and Henrys Fork Wildlife Alliance provided matching funding for the project. This project became part of the current statewide effort by IDFG to collar pronghorn to study their seasonal movements.
The pronghorn were captured using a net-gun fired by a Fish and Game biologist from a low flying helicopter and fitted with radio collars. Fish and Game says “Radio collars are a very effective and efficient way for biologists to track wildlife [movements].”
Tim Reynolds, of Rigby and Island Park, a board member of Friends of Camas National Wildlife Refuge, says, “Long before I-15 existed, pronghorn antelope from Shotgun Valley, and elsewhere, moved to winter range west of I-15. This destination is now blocked by fences along I-15.” He said the goal of the project is “to get good data with which to figure out how to best get these animals to and from winter range, and keep them off the tracks.”
Bruce Mincher, SCI Idaho Board Conservation Chair, said that data from the radio collars will be collected as long as the collars are functional. He anticipates that after the first year of data is collected, there will be enough data to suggest mitigation strategies to help the animals. He says “Implementation of a successful strategy will have permanent beneficial effects on the pronghorn population.”
Mark Harbaugh of Ashton, a founding board member of Henrys Fork Wildlife Alliance, said that as a fifth generation Idahoan and lifelong sportsman it was especially meaningful to have the opportunity to participate as a volunteer in the project to collar and study migration paths of the antelope in the Camas/Hamer area.
For more information contact:
Bruce Mincher, Board Conservation Chair, SCI Idaho at (208) 521-8199