- Associated Press - Sunday, March 6, 2016

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - Wildlife officials are modifying and moving fences and better tracking the movements of pronghorn antelope.

The animals tend not to jump fences. Nonprofit organizations and state and federal agencies are committed to removing or modifying these fences in the long term after spending years on a pilot program and tracking pronghorn, the Arizona Daily Sun reported (https://bit.ly/1OWM0g6).

Game and Fish will track about 70 of the animals to gauge how effective the efforts are.

Arizona Game and Fish Department research biologist Jeff Gagnon says pronghorn migration allows animals to find food and water, escape predators and weather, and diversify breeding populations.

There are thousands of pronghorn north of the San Francisco Peaks, a population reduced from millions after development, roads and livestock fencing cut off migration routes and limited habitat.

Tracking shows animals are stopping along roads and fence lines. One 2007 study shows one out of 37 collared longhorn antelopes crossed Highway 89 in two years.

“There are so many fences out there, we have to use a data-driven approach with the resources we have,” Gagnon said.

More animals were able to move across the highway and across fence lines after fences were altered to remove barbed wire in some areas.

The 750,000-acres of Babbitt Ranches are in the middle of pronghorn migration. Since 1990, the Babbitt officials have modified fences along hundreds of miles.

President and General Manager Billy Cordasco developed a method that is often used now of putting a PVC pipe over the bottom two fence wires so pronghorn can get by.

Gagnon says there is still plenty of work to do.

“There seems to be no end in sight for a long time,” Gagnon said. “So we’ll just keep working on it.”

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Information from: Arizona Daily Sun, https://www.azdailysun.com/

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