New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
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Media contact: Zen Mocarski, (505) 476-8013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, JUNE 29, 2016:
Game and Fish and Texas Tech Collaborate on research project
SANTA FE – Today, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish announced that they will be partnering with Texas Tech University to address low pronghorn fawn survival rates in south-central New Mexico. The low survival rate over the last five years has biologists looking for answers.
New Mexico Department of Game and Fish personnel, in collaboration with Texas Tech University, captured 58 fawns outside of Capitan, N.M. in an effort to discover the primary causes for high fawn mortality. The pronghorn fawns were captured in May and June using a hoop net. Body measurements were taken and ear-tag transmitters placed on each animal and then they were quickly released to reduce overall stress.
None of the fawns died during the capture. However, less than a month into the study biologists documented 39 deaths, more than 50 percent of which are known to be the result of predation. 12 of the fawns were taken by bobcats, 11 by coyotes, 15 from unknown causes and one due to failing to cross a fence.
“Based on what we’ve seen during past surveys, the numbers don’t surprise me. It’s consistent with the survival rates over the last five to 10 years,” said Orrin Duvuvuei, deer and pronghorn biologist for Game and Fish.
Duvuvuei said that at the end of the project, the department hopes to gain insight on potential management actions that can be applied to improve fawn survival rates.
Having already documented a past population decline, Game and Fish supplemented the existing pronghorn herd by relocating 152 animals over three years to the area. Without stronger recruitment into the existing herds, Game and Fish biologists fear the population may begin a downward trend.
Game and Fish conducted the study with funding from a Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration grant. Additionally, Texas Tech helped with both funding and personnel.