Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pronghorn and Trains

As I pointed out in a recent post, there is a major railway line that runs along the Milk River Valley and is a potential barrier to pronghorn movement. Turns out it is much worse than a barrier this year.
Apparently a BNSF train plowed into a large herd of Pronghorn moving down the tracks earlier in the week. The roads and railroads are some of the only areas left where the snow isn't very deep and the animals are using these to move around. Initial reports suggest at least 270 Pronghorn were killed by one train. Carcasses were scattered along the railroad bed with some thrown into nearby trees. Many of the remains were just bits and pieces of Pronghorn scattered along the tracks. At least one individual was carrying a GPS collar from the project I have been involved with. The ear tag was recovered along with part of the head but the collar has not be relocated.
Two-hundred and seventy Pronghorn is a very large percentage of the population these animals were thought to be part of and despite the ability of Pronghorn to reproduce fairly rapidly, it may take quite a few years for this population to recover from this winter, and in particular, this one mass slaughter.