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Predation takes a toll on two herds in state

 

SELIGMAN – The Arizona Game and Fish Department will continue a program to help the state’s struggling pronghorn population in two nearby hunting units.

The department will collaborate in an effort to lethally remove coyotes from April 1 through May 31 to improve low fawn survival documented in the pronghorn herd in Game Management Units 10 and 18B. Aerial removal efforts will be conducted in targeted areas of Game Management Unit 18B, located north of Bagdad, and Unit 10 north of Seligman, where pronghorn fawn mortality rates have been high due in large part to dry range conditions and predation by coyotes. The estimated pronghorn population has declined in this unit over the past four years.

 

Arizona’s pronghorn populations have been struggling due to drought and other factors, such as encroachment of woody plants, habitat fragmentation due to road building and fences, and habitat loss due to development. The department is trying to help pronghorn in specific areas where herd declines have been severe.

The fawn-to-doe ratio also has decreased with a low of 13 fawns per 100 does in 2016.

“Fawns are most susceptible to predation during the first few weeks of life,” said April Howard, the department’s predator, furbearer and large carnivore biologist. “Our intent is to reduce predation during the fawning season to provide newborn fawns a window of survivability. Reducing predation should give newborn fawns a chance to survive long enough so they can escape predators.”

Coyote removal is a short-term effort to assist pronghorn herds in trouble. These efforts are part of a much larger effort that addresses habitat quality within these units by thinning encroaching mesquite trees and installing water sources.

Game and Fish biologists are working with land management agencies, conservation groups, ranchers, and the public to address long-term habitat concerns in these areas.

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