Early Monday morning, the New Mexico Game and Fish Department will begin rounding up hundreds of pronghorn in northeastern New Mexico. The antelope-like animals will be relocated to areas with minuscule or non-existent herds.
The pronghorn is the fastest moving land mammal in North America and since the 1930's New Mexico officials have been trying to restore the population in its native short grass prairie habitat. A dramatic decline in their numbers at the turn of the 20th century was due to excessive hunting and left the creature fighting for survival.
Stewart Liley is the Big Game Coordinator for Game and Fish. He says healthy pronghorn from a herd that lives near Cimarrón will be moved in order boost populations elsewhere.
"We capture from our source herd where we have excess animals," he explained. "We will move them into suitable habitat in historic range to try and bolster those populations or start new populations. "
Although most of the pronghorn are staying within New Mexico state lines,
some will be sent to Arizona. In exchange, New Mexico will receive
60 Gould's turkeys to boost the population of the threatened bird here.
The pronghorn's historic range encompasses Western North America. The relocated animals will be tracked and in the spring, agencies with be monitoring survival rates for newborn pronghorn fawns.