Somewhere around 250 pronghorn are roaming the open country of Northcentral and Southcentral Washington, thanks to tribal releases on two reservations in recent years and the birth of fawns.
A minimum of 118 were counted by Colville wildlife biologists during a recent aerial survey, according to a Grand Coulee Star article out last Wednesday.
Surveyors counted 89 adults and 29 fawns. Fifty-one of those animals are wearing telemetry collars, and it’s likely there are more untracked antelope both on and off the Colville Reservation.
Fifty-two were set free there in January 2016 and another 99 this past October.
A number have crossed the Columbia River into largely private Douglas County and some have wandered as far as Wenatchee and Quincy, according to the Star.
Colville wildlife managers say they are trying to work with the state Department of Transportation and local farmers how to design pronghorn-friendly fences, as the speedsters are apparently not very good at jumping.
Antelope, however, can be problematic for alfalfa growers.
The northern pronghorns came from the same state as those released earlier this decade on the Yakama Reservation, Nevada.
A joint state-tribal March 2017 aerial survey of Benton, Klickitat and Yakima Counties yielded a population estimate of 121, and last fall Yakama biologists let 52 more loose.
“There was high survival of the translocated animals, so the herd is presumably a bit larger that the spring count of 121 animals now,” said WDFW wildlife bio Jason Fidorra.
He expects the tribe to release another 48.
State pronghorn manager Rich Harris says that WDFW and the Yakama Nation will conduct an aerial survey this coming winter.