Pronghorns popping up on the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission agenda for this weekend’s meetings got my hunter’s heart racing.
“Just a briefing on status or should we look for something along the lines of potential permit hunt development?” I asked state speedgoat manager Richard Harris.
He got back to me pretty quickly and tempered my enthusiasm somewhat.
“Just a briefing, at the request of the Commission. Premature for the latter …,” Harris replied via email.
Still, if you’re interested in the expansion of antelope herds in the eastern half of the Evergreen State, his presentation to the citizen panel does make for some interesting viewing.
Its 26 pages covers the native species’ history, its extirpation by the very early 1900s, and state (mid-1900s) and tribal (2000s) reintroduction efforts, as well as maps showing where those captured in Nevada and released onto the Yakama and Colville Reservations with GPS collars primarily range and have wandered.
Some on the former reservation have gone as far east as I-82 between Tri-Cities and the Columbia, and as far south as almost to the giant landfill above Roosevelt in Klickitat County.
Some on the latter have gone as far south as near the mouth of Moses Coulee.
The presentation also touches on population monitoring (last summer we reported there were roughly 250 out there, and WDFW and the Yakamas are planning another joint late-January survey), landowner issues (pronghorns are prone to alfalfa addictions), and the state’s existing policies.
The request for a briefing came from Commissioner Kim Thorburn of Spokane, and with one-third of the antelope in Washington now occupying ground where WDFW has jurisdiction, Harris will brief the commission on future steps, which includes:
• Preliminary management plans for both Upper Columbia Basin and Lower Columbia Basin pronghorn groups• Work closely with Tribes to develop complementary plans and strategies• Public meetings to gather input and suggestions
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