Colville tribal wildlife managers report that several pronghorns released on their reservation last winter have since swam across the Columbia River.
It wasn’t clear how many are now roaming Douglas County — a press release termed it a “small group” — but it had been expected that the herd would wander from where the animals were released in late January in the southwestern corner of the sprawling North-central Washington reservoir.
“Our original goal is to restore the species,” said the Tribes’ Rich Whitney told the Tribal Tribune for an article out today. “We’d like to get them established here, but they’re going to be across the river as well.”
Northern Douglas County is comprised of pasturelands, dryland grain farming and several large blocks of state land.
A brief news release posted to the tribal Fish & Wildlife Department’s Facebook page provided an update on how well the overall herd is doing. It reports that of the 52 originally released, 26 adults are wearing telemetry collars and that, unfortunately, 14 others have died.
As for the other pronghorn herd inside the state’s borders, a Yakama Nation and WDFW survey in late February 2015 found 106, with 49 on the reservation and 57 off, and a minimum population estimate of 132. Another survey is penciled in for next winter.
The antelope are a native species of Washington that were gone by the early 1900s. WDFW’s forerunner attempted several times to restore them to their former habitat, but gave up. Since then, the tribes have taken up the cause.