Letter to WDFW Director, Commission on pronghorn recovery
ConservationNWAdmin / Jun 25, 2019 / Pronghorn, Restoring Wildlife, Sagelands
As the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife seeks public input to develop a pronghorn management plan, we submitted the following letter to the Department, in addition to releasing a WILD NW Action Alert asking Washingtonians to show support for pronghorn recovery.
Director kelly susewind
Washington state department of fish and wildlife
I write in support of recovery of pronghorn antelope in Washington. This unique species is native to our state and is understood to have historically used central and eastern Washington’s open landscapes as a small but important part of its range.
Clearly the Yakama and Colville Confederated Tribes consider this species culturally important. Thanks to their reintroduction programs, pronghorn have a foothold and the state should now prioritize efforts to restore the species to other areas of central Washington, including WDFW’s Big Bend, Wells, L.T. Murray, Whiskey Dick, Quilomene, Wenas, and Desert wildlife areas.
Restoring well-connected pronghorn herds stretching from the Yakama Reservation to (and beyond) the Colville Reservation should be the state’s goal, with significant value for wildlife watchers, indigenous peoples, outdoor recreationists and hunters.
We recognize that as with any species, some conflicts can be expected, including impacts on private crops or ranch lands. We encourage WDFW to work with landowners to minimize damage. As with other ungulate conflicts, options should be developed to prevent or offset damages to pasture ground, crops and fences that may occur. Conservation Northwest is willing to partner with the Department and landowners to reduce impacts through collaboration, as we have done for other species and habitats, including through our Sagelands Heritage Program in central Washington’s shrub-steppe.
It’s critical that the Department view pronghorn as a native species in need of recovery planning rather than just management.
With a positive, proactive approach for pronghorn restoration on state lands, combined with effective, fair treatment of private landowners, we believe this special species could once again bring enjoyment to Washington’s citizens after more than a century of absence. Not often do we get this kind of opportunity to increase biodiversity and restore a part of the shrub-steppe ecosystem in such a meaningful way.
We ask that you please make pronghorn a priority. The voices of hundreds of our members and other wildlife advocates who expressed to WDFW support for pronghorn recovery should be heard.
Cc: Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission; Rich Harris, Game Division Section Manager