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Pronghorns check out the digs in Asotin County

WILDLIFE — Although 91 pronghorns were imported from Nevada and released on the Yakama Indian Reservation in 2011 (see story), a few of the speedster species may have hoofed into Washington on their own from Oregon.

Two bucks and a doe were reported this month in northern Asotin County, according to a report by Paul Wik, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife southeast wildlife biologist.

“It is not known how long it has been since naturally recolonizing pronghorn have been seen in the state, but it has likely been a very long time,” he said on the agency's website.

It's also possible the trio are spinoffs from the pronghorns released in Yakima. Those animals have reproduced and ranged widely off the reservation, but details are hard to get from the tribe.

WDFW wildlife mangers say they've had informal talks with landowners about moving reintroducing pronghorns to Walla Walla County. 

Meantime, report any Washington pronghorn sightings by email to Wik, Paul.Wik@dfw.wa.gov, or state special species manager Rich Harris, Richard.Harris@dfw.wa.gov.

Outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson snapped the pronghorn buck image above near his home in Montana, where antelope still roam widely.

Boone & Crockett scorer scores trophy pronghorn

HUNTING — Larry Carey, who measures dozens of trophy big-game animals in Spokane each year as an official Boone and Crockett scorer, bagged his own wall-hanger recently while antelope hunting with relatives near Cimarron, N.M.

Carey, 74, shot a pronghorn measuring 85 inches green. After the 60-day drying period, the buck should easily make the 82-inch gross score minimum for the B&C Record Book.

Carey, a member of the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council and the anchor of Trophy Territory at the annual Big Horn Show, logged eight pronghorn hunts before tagging a bruiser this large.

Winter weary pronghorns, deer slaughtered on Montana roads, railways

WILDLIFE — For three hours on a recent afternoon, Blaine County Undersheriff Pat Pyette and a deputy shot wounded antelope in Montana.

The herd had congregated on the only place clear of snow — railroad tracks used by BNSF Railway Co.

Pyette figures he and the deputy put down about 100 animals that day, about 5 miles east of Savoy. Parts and pieces from another 200 antelope were strewn across the tracks, enough to fill a dozen dump trucks, he said.

See the rest of this disturbing report from the Great Falls Tribune.


Helicopter pronghorn roundup caught on video

WILDLIFE — A helicopter's speedy pursuit and net capture of pronghorns in Nevada is captured on amateur video and posted on YouTube.  If you think helicopter net gunning is child's play, you need to watch this. 

Click here for one video showing the intensity of the helicoptering skills required. Listen for the two shots as the gutsy gunner — tethered by a cable out the door of the rocking ship — fires nets down on the speeing pronghorns.  The video above shows the netting done closer to the camera in the final frames.

On Sunday I ran a package of stories detailing the reintroduction of these unique critters to Washington.

The footage was shot by volunteers in Nevada during  the roundup of 100 pronghorns destined for the Jan. 15-16 re-introduction on the Yakama Indian Reservation in central Washington.

After the animals were netted, the volunteers raced out to untangle them and secure them so they wouldn't injure themselves before transport. The project was funded by Safari Club International.

No official comment on pronghorns released on Yakama Indian Reservation

WILDLIFE — Neither state nor tribal officials returned telephone queries today regarding the Saturday-Sunday translocation of Nevada pronghorns to the Yakama Indian Reservation.

As I reported in my Monday blog, pronghorns were extirpated from this region in the 1800s.

I called two Washington Fish and Wildlife Department big-game program managers today and they did not respond.  Wildlife biologists with the Yakima Tribe said they were awaiting authority to speak from the tribal council.

The Washington Cattlemen's Association was much quicker to say they are concerned about the potential for transmitting disease. Blood samples apparently were drawn from the animals in Nevada, but the pronghorns were released in Central Washington Saturday and Sunday before the samples could be analysed.

It appears the excitement of bringing back the sage-country speedsters is not unanimous.

Stay tuned.