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Where the Antelope Play: Iconic Pronghorn Could Rebound With the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act

Songs have been written about Pronghorn antelope. To see them running across the plains is the quintessence of wild Texas. But Trans-Pecos pronghorn are in trouble, another of the more than 1,300 species of concern that need our help, yet could resurge if the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act passes.

At least 17,000 pronghorn historically roamed the West Texas region, but by 2012 there were estimated to be fewer than 3,000. Today, restoration efforts have begun to move the needle toward recovery.

Since 2011 about 780 pronghorn have been translocated from the Texas Panhandle, where populations are strong, to supplement dwindling numbers around Marfa and Marathon. As of last summer, pronghorn numbers had doubled, based on TPWD aerial surveys.

Earl Nottingham, TPWD

It’s the kind of conservation work that could be significantly scaled up if the Recovering America's Wildlife Act passes. The bill would provide an estimated $63 million per year to Texas, and that would mean huge gains for Texas wildlife. For pronghorn, it could restore and improve the desert grasslands they share with many species, benefiting grassland birds and other wildlife.

A ready framework to expand pronghorn restoration exists with the Trans-Pecos Pronghorn Restoration Project. Recovering America's Wildlife Act funding could work well here through possible grants to universities, non-profit partners and others in the multi-year, public-private partnership that has raised private donations to begin to reverse declining pronghorn populations.  

Partners include private landowners, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), Borderlands Research Institute at Sul Ross State University (BRI), Trans-Pecos Pronghorn Working Group, Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (TPWF), and USDA-Wildlife Services.

The Recovering America's Wildlife Act won’t pass unless people who care take action. Learn how to speak out for wildlife on our tool kit page.

Earl Nottingham, TPWD

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