Ensure Protection for Endangered Antelope

Target: Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Goal: Protect endangered antelope habitats and ensure populations have access to fresh water and other resources.

Listed as endangered in 1967, the Sonoran Pronghorn has been seriously threatened by habitat fragmentation and degradation due to development, oil extraction, mining, agricultural over-grazing, off-road vehicle use, and drought. The Endangered Species Coalition recently named this North American antelope one of the species most threatened by drought.

The Pronghorn is North America’s fastest land mammal, and one of the farthest-migrating as well. The Sonoran subspecies survives in Southern Arizona and Sonora, Mexico, but the group’s habitat corridor has been fragmented due to highways and railroads, development, and the national border. With tightening of control and law enforcement at the border, fewer Pronghorn are able to easily access all of their habitat. Other subspecies farther north are facing threats from development, and oil and gas fields.

Studies show that the Pronghorn is not accessing habitat on or near gas fields, although drilling companies have argued that their field designs are environmentally friendly. Now a new 220 square mile gas field is being proposed for Wyoming, which has worried conservationists. This fracturing of habitat and restriction of access to various migration destinations in turn restricts access to watering sites, foraging grounds, and other necessary resources. The recent drought has exacerbated this water insecurity.

Despite the hardships the Sonoran and other Pronghorn populations face, they are not receiving the support they need to maintain their numbers. Once found in Canada, across the Midwest, West and Southwest, and in Mexico, the Pronghorn was a prominent species in North America, but is now limited to a shrinking and fragmented area. Please ask the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to prioritize the health of the Pronghorn and its habitat.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,

Despite being listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act, the Sonoran Pronghorn, among other Pronghorn subspecies, is facing significant threats. Recently named one of the species most at risk due to drought, the Pronghorn is also encountering further habitat fragmentation and degradation, including obstacles to accessing migratory destinations, watering areas and foraging grounds.

The Sonoran Pronghorn population lives in Southern Arizona and Sonora, Mexico, an arid region particularly damaged by recent droughts. In 2002, about 80 percent of this group died due to drought. Divided by the national border, this group has also dealt with increasing border activities, and habitat has been degraded by off-road vehicle use as well. Northern groups are especially threatened by oil extraction and mining. Oil and gas fields interfere with large areas of habitat, and Pronghorns largely cannot access significant sections of habitat and resources.

A 220 square mile oil field is currently in the process of being approved by the Bureau of Land Management, and it is imperative that the health and survival of the Pronghorn be prioritized. Additionally, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must ensure that habitat corridors are maintained so that populations are not divided or cut off from water, foraging grounds or migratory paths.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Petrified Forest Ranger via Flickr

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