Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"Oh Give Me a Home Where the Buffalo Roam and the Deer and the Antelope Play"

I am really sad lately about the pronghorn antelope that live near our house. We live way out of town and we see them all the time in the big fields we drive through on our way back in to town. But they just started building a new highway that cuts right through the fields where the antelope roam. And since the very first day that they broke ground the antelope have been acting so strange. I have never seen them running or acting skiddish in any way until I drove past them that day. They were running kind of confusedly back and forth like they didn't know where to go. In case you don't know, pronghorn antelope can't jump fences like deer, and they can't be transported because they have heart attacks from the shock. So, their dwelling place is slowly shrinking and they have no escape. I saw one dead on the highway recently. I cried. I'm not a conservationist, but I sure do wish something could be done for these beauties. I will be sad when they are all gone.
Here is a clipping from a 2002 article about the problem. I'm trying to find out more about the current status of the Sonoran pronghorn in Arizona and if anyone has noticed what this highway in particular is doing to them.
"The reason we’re hitting animals is obvious: Our roads are built in their territory, overlaid on the landscape without regard for existing ecological patterns," says Tricia White, transportation associate for Defenders of Wildlife in Washington, D.C. "And with the exception of a handful of endangered species, the direct mortality of animals as a result of vehicle collisions may be the least of the problems that roads inflict on our native wildlife." Take the Sonoran pronghorn, for example, a unique and elegant North American antelope that once numbered in the millions. Although pronghorn are faring well in many western states, the Sonoran subspecies is on the brink of extinction. Fewer than 100 individuals remain in the United States today. Drastic loss of habitat has confined this species to a small fraction of its natural and necessary range. The Sonoran pronghorn roadkill is not at significant risk of being killed on a road. Their particular behavioral traits keep them from approaching -- let alone crossing -- roads. But the presence of a road presents a formidable barrier to movement, effectively walling off whatever habitat may exist on the opposite side. This limits the availability of food, water and shelter, impedes dispersal and divides populations into smaller, more isolated units less able to withstand a catastrophe such as disease or fire and more prone to inbreeding and other genetic problems." (From "Killer Roads" by Susan Cerulean, Defenders magazine Winter 2002 issue.)


At 3:20 PM , Blogger eric said...

Hi Tasha, nice heartfelt message about our shrinking wildlands. You do not have to be a conservationist to care about our natural heritage. Conservationists are folks like you and me who choose to make a career protecting our flora, fauna and ecological systems.

I drive up to Prescott a couple times a year and the development is stark and intrusive, there is always something new that is frankly not beautiful and not part of the natural landscape or cultural heritage of the place. What made the Prescott area unique has given way to Anywherewille, USA which is sad for us and the pronghorn.


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