Will Texas Pronghorn Hunting Survive?

There is no doubt that Texas pronghorn hunting is a big deal. The “speed goat” as it’s aptly referred is an integral part of the rolling landscape found throughout West Texas. But parasites have plagued the species in years, which could potentially threaten pronghorn hunting in some places.  Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has been trying to supplement dwindling populations through relocation from healthier ones. The continuation of the Trans-Pecos Pronghorn Restoration Project progressed with another successful relocation of almost 100 pronghorn recently.

The animals were captured from healthy populations around Pampa and moved to an area southeast of Marfa to supplement severely depleted pronghorn populations. The relocation process was coordinated among the Borderlands Research Institute at Sul Ross State University (BRI), Trans-Pecos Pronghorn Working Group, TPWD, Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, and USDA-Wildlife Services. Quicksilver Air, Inc. conducted the capture.

The objective of the Trans-Pecos Pronghorn Restoration Project is to bolster pronghorn populations that have reached historic lows through translocations, habitat improvements, and predator management. At least 17,000 pronghorn once roamed the West Texas region; today there are less than 3,000. The Trans-Pecos Pronghorn Restoration Program is a five-year $1.4 million public-private partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation. To date, $1 million has been secured.

Last year, 125 pronghorn were captured from the Dalhart area and released on ranches near Marathon. Currently, TPWD estimates about 80 percent of the transplanted pronghorn remain and reproduction was also high with a fawn crop of over 70% in the Marathon area. The transplanted pronghorn and their offspring have significantly boosted the local population within the release area near Marathon, which had less than 50 animals prior to the translocation.

“We hope this population will continue to grow and become another source for pronghorn in the next few years to help supplement other herds in the Trans-Pecos,” said Shawn Gray, TPWD Mule Deer and Pronghorn Program Leader. “The release areas in 2013 and 2014 had favorable range conditions. We also spent months working with landowners to prepare each release site, including fence modifications and predator management. Trans-Pecos field staff and BRI students, headed by local Wildlife Biologists Mike Janis and Mike Sullins were instrumental in this effort” Gray stated.

For the 2014 transplant, Trey Barron, TPWD Wildlife Biologist stationed in Pampa spent endless hours coordinating with local landowners to obtain trapping permission and working on trap-site logistics. “Without Trey’s dedication and local landowner support, this project would not have happened” said Gray.

At the capture site, workers took each animal’s temperature to monitor stress, along with blood and fecal samples for disease surveillance. The pronghorn also received a mild sedative to minimize stress related to capture and transport. Ear tags were attached for identification. Sixty six of the captured pronghorn were fitted with radio collars, including 53 GPS collars programmed to collect GPS locations every hour. One year post-release, the GPS collars will automatically drop from the animals and be retrieved by researchers to download and analyze the GPS data.

After processing, the pronghorn were transported by trailer to the release site southeast of Marfa. “The capture could not have gone any smoother,” said Dr. Louis Harveson, BRI director and Sul Ross professor of Natural Resource Management. “The pronghorn were in excellent shape and traveled really well.”

During the next year, the BRI and TPWD will closely monitor the translocated pronghorn to determine survival, reproductive productivity, fawn survival, habitat utilization, and movements. This research will help define the best management practices essential in growing pronghorn populations in the Trans-Pecos region. “We sincerely appreciate all the cooperation and support from our partners and the Pampa and Trans-Pecos communities,” stated Gray. “Their continued support will help ensure pronghorn herds will recover and continue to roam the desert grasslands of Texas.”

And let’s hope that means Texas pronghorn hunting will continue, too.


If you love Texas, you will LOVE this video!

Experimental Texas Pronghorn Hunting Season

A new experimental pronghorn hunting season in parts of the Texas Panhandle September 28 through October 6 will allow landowners to control harvest of buck pronghorn on their properties. The experimental season will be in herd units 8, 17, and 25, which include portions of Dallam, Hartley, Sherman, Moore, Roberts, and Gray counties. I expect the season will capture a lot of the breeding season, meaning hunters should see goats on the move.

Under prior statewide regulations, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department determined the pronghorn harvest quota and issued permits directly to landowners. With the new pronghorn rules, landowners or their agents within selected pronghorn management units in the northeast and northwest Panhandle will determine the harvest quota and control buck pronghorn harvest on their property during the three-year pilot project. Hunters are reminded they must receive landowner permission to access their property.

Texas Pronghorn Antelope Hunting

The goal of the project is to simplify pronghorn hunting regulations and increase hunting opportunities in areas with stable populations. Wildlife officials will closely monitor pronghorn herds during the pilot project to ensure populations remain healthy.

How many pronghorn permits will I get?

The number of permits issued within a Herd Unit is based upon results of annual surveys (pronghorn numbers, sex ratios, and fawn crops). Permits are allocated to specific tracts within a Herd Unit, which is directly related to acres of pronghorn habitat for each tract. TPWD suggests that permit demand often exceeds the harvestable surplus, so not all landowners will receive a permit every year.

How much do pronghorn permits cost?

Permits are free. Receipt of permits is dependent upon timely submission of application and harvest cards. Applications must be submitted by August 1. Pronghorn Harvest Cards are due by October 31.


Pronghorn Check Stations in Texas Panhandle

The Texas pronghorn hunting season is just around the corner and it’s important to remind all successful hunters that speed goats harvested in certain parts of the state must be reported. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) reports all hunters are required to present the intact, unfrozen head of harvested pronghorn at a mandatory check station within 24 hours of harvest. TPWD wildlife biologists will then collect essential biological information from the harvested animal.

These data will be analyzed annually to make sure Texas pronghorn populations remain healthy, allowing for hunting well into the future. Pronghorn check stations are at the following locations:

  • In Dalhart, at the park off of Lake Drive. Check station is across from People’s Church (1929 Apache Dr.). GPS coordinates of Dalhart check station (36.038269, -102.506358),
  • In Pampa, at Chisum Ranch office (on Price Rd, south of HWY 152). GPS coordinates of Pampa check station (35.531080, -100.989493).
  • Check stations will be open through the 9-day season (Sept. 28 – Oct. 6 from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. and the following Monday (Oct. 7) 9 a.m. to noon.

A check station receipt will be given to each hunter to provide permit proof of compliance with the mandatory pronghorn check station regulation. Hunters who harvest pronghorn outside the experimental area are also encouraged to bring their harvest in at the check stations to contribute biological data. Wildlife biologist will age their harvest for free.

Texas Pronghorn Antelope Unit Map

Pronghorn Hunting

Source: “The breeding season of the pronghorn in Trans-Pecos Texas extends from the last week in August to the first week in October. The most vigorous bucks gather small harems of two to 14 does. Young bucks frequently linger at the outskirts of the harem herd and at times attempt to steal a doe or even to interfere with a mature buck in his mating activities. The master of the harem has an endless task in keeping his does together and warding off intruding bucks. The gestation period is between 7 and 7½ months. The young (usually two) weigh from 2 to 4 kg each and appear in May or June.”

Pronghorn Hunting in Texas Gets More Flexibility

West Texas, including the Texas Panhandle, offer some great pronghorn hunting, and it looks like landowners will have the opportunity to become increasingly involved in the management of the antelope found on their land. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has approved an experimental pronghorn buck season in some areas of the Panhandle, which would allow landowners to control the harvest of buck pronghorn on their properties.

Under the current statewide regulations, TPWD determines the pronghorn harvest quota and issues permits directly to landowners for surplus pronghorn. With the new pronghorn hunting rules, landowners or their agents within selected pronghorn management units in the northeast and northwest Panhandle would determine the harvest quota and control buck pronghorn harvest on their property during the three-year pilot project.

Pronghorn Hunting in Texas - More Permits for Texas Landowners

The goal of the project is to simplify pronghorn hunting regulations and increase hunting opportunity in areas with stable antelope populations. Wildlife biologists will closely monitor pronghorn herds during the pilot project to ensure populations remain healthy. This may put more buck permits into the hands of landowners, which may ultimately mean more speed goat hunting for Texas hunters.

Texas Pronghorn Hunting Depends on Antelope Restoration?

Pronghorn antelope have always been a part of the Texas landscape, but what’s the future of this speed goat? Will pronghorn hunting in Texas continue or will the population decline witnessed over the past few years lead to the end of an already limited supply of pronghorn permits? Biologists are trying to answer these questions as we speak, as well as determine if additional stockings may be necessary and warranted. The Borderlands Research Institute (BRI) of Sul Ross State University and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) will host a March 6 seminar to discuss current findings of the Pronghorn Restoration and Research Project.

Pronghorn are one of the most amazing ungulates found in North American. This big game animal, with their distinct brown and white coloration accented by black cheek patches and glossy black horns, had become a fixture of the Trans-Pecos and the Texas Panhandle. The pronghorn is unique to the world and North America and is the only big game species that sheds it’s out horn sheath each fall.

Texas Pronghorn Hunting Depends on Pronghorn Antelope Restoration

The pronghorn is not in fact an antelope, but rather a member of the goat family. It’s lack of dew claws on the front feet give it this distinction. A pronghorn can attain speeds of 70 mph and cruise at 30 miles per hour for long distances. Their eyesight is phenomenal and compares to a human using 8X magnification binoculars. Living in open, windy, semi-arid country, pronghorns depend mainly on their acute eyesight to warn them of danger, but recent research has found that parasites may be their biggest problem.

The schedule pronghorn seminar will begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 6 in the Espino Conference Center, Morgan University Center. Refreshments will be served and the public is invited. The purpose of the project is to identify causative factors associated with declining antelope herds and to restore pronghorn to their historic habitats in the Trans-Pecos. The pronghorn restoration seminar will provide an overview of the ongoing restoration efforts and an update of the research findings.

The Pronghorn Restoration and Research Project is a collaborative effort by the BRI, TPWD, Trans-Pecos Pronghorn Working Group, Texas landowners, and concerned citizens. For more information about the restoration project, call (432) 837-8488 or (432) 837-2051.

Texas Pronghorn Hunting a Go, Lower Permit Numbers

It’s been a dry year across the Lone Star State and pronghorn antelope numbers are down, but there will some amount of pronghorn hunting in Texas come October 1-9. Pronghorn numbers have most definitely declined in 2011 due to drought-related low reproduction and additional parasite issues, so Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) biologists are suggesting that they will probably issue fewer pronghorn permits than in recent years. And that makes sense.

Aerial “goat” surveys ought to be completed in late August, but preliminary observations suggest that pronghorn populations of these prairie pronghorn antelope have definitely slipped. These estimates follow a project last winter that moved 200 pronghorn from the Panhandle to the Trans-Pecos region around Marfa. Many of those animals died, but an estimated 30 to 40 percent, or about 60 to 80 antelope,  were still on the range in early July.

Texas Pronghorn Permits: Pronghorn Antelope Hunting

TPWD issued 447 pronghorn hunting permits last year and around 600 the year before that, said Shawn Gray, the agency’s pronghorn program leader. “I’m willing to bet it will be less than that this year,” Gray said. “We’re going to have some pronghorn hunting, but primarily in Hudspeth and Culberson counties. Maybe there will be a few around Alpine, but I’m not so sure we’ll have any around Marfa. It’s a possibility, but it’s not looking good right now.”

Gray added that the Panhandle has good pronghorn populations, but “some of the fawn crops are pretty dismal.” It’s easy to blame habitat-killing drought, but challenges don’t stop there. The pronghorn’s range in Texas stretches across the Trans-Pecos, High Plains, Rolling Plains, and Edwards Plateau — a landscape that is characteristically dry. Predators and disease add to the already-harsh environment.

As many as 17,000 West Texas antelope were counted in the mid-to-late 1980s, but by 2000 there were only 5,200 of them. The translocation project last winter had a two-pronged goal to bolster the Trans-Pecos herd while helping researchers figure out what caused population declines. The Panhandle pronghorn were trapped by helicopter, and then transported in truck-drawn trailers 500 miles south to their new homes in Presidio County. But there was a tense moment on the trip.

One of the vehicles broke down between Seminole and Andrews, and it was about 80 degrees,  dangerously hot for the already-stressed pronghorn, Gray said. But, he added, firefighters from Seminole came and hosed the trailer down, cooling it. That saved some of the animals, although about a half dozen died. Texas’ pronghorn populations face internal parasites as well as a landscape hammered hard by drought, but something tells me these speed goats are going to make it. These ungulates have been on the landscape forever, let’s just hope Texas pronghorn hunting can stay there too.

Texas Panhandle Pronghorn Antelope Get New Home

About two hundred pronghorn antelope from the Texas Panhandle have gone on vacation. Or better yet, have a new home! Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD)has reported transporting of 200 pronghorn from the panhandle to the Marfa Plateau—about a 500 mile trip! The trap and transport operation was performed to increase the declined Trans-Pecos herd and help biologists determine why the West Texas herd has been in decline in recent years.

Using net guns, crew members and a chartered private helicopter company would net individual pronghorn from above, then jump from the low-hovering chopper to quickly blindfold and hobble the animal to complete the trapping. Captured animals were then flown to a staging area. Once the animals were lowered to the ground, ground personnel carried each pronghorn to a stretcher for examination and aging by veterinarians and biologists.

Texas Panhandle Pronghorn Antelope Get New Home

Biologist and vets took each animal’s temperature along with blood and feces samples. The pronghorn antelope also received a mild sedative. Then an ear tag was attached. In addition, 80 of the animals received light-weight radio-telemetry tracking collars to monitor their movement. Once this process was completed, which took an average of eight minutes per animal, the pronghorns were placed in hay-lined enclosed trailers for the nine-hour drive from the Panhandle to the Marfa area.

“This is a win-win for all concerned, since removing surplus pronghorns from the northwestern Panhandle will help minimize crop depredation, ” said Shawn Gray, TPWD’s Alpine-based mule deer and pronghorn program leader. “This relocation is also going to help us try to figure out what has been causing pronghorn numbers in the Trans-Pecos to drop.”

This is the largest antelope transfer TPWD has undertaken in decades.
Data gathered during and after the relocation effort will be used by researchers in their effort to determine a reason for the decline in the once-strong Trans-Pecos pronghorn herd. While some 10,000 pronghorns roam the Panhandle, the herd in the Trans-Pecos is estimated at a record low of 4,700 animals. If things go as planned, another 200 pronghorns will be trapped in the Panhandle and relocated to West Texas next year.

Pronghorn Antelope Trapped and Restocked in Texas

Most of the people that did not grow up or who have not traveled through Texas think the state is made up of flat, open country. Sure, part of it is, but even the open country is not flat—it’s rolling! And that open country is important pronghorn antelope habitat that offers surprisingly good pronghorn hunting on lands managed for these fast critters. Pronghorn are native to Texas, found in the Panhandle as well as the Trans-Pecos regions of the state. Pronghorn once roamed most all of the state, including the coastal plains, but never did well in East Texas due to all the timber.

Though pronghorn antelope is still found in West Texas, the number of speed goats over in the Trans-Pecos has been dwindling. Texas Parks and Wildlife Deparment (TPWD) biologist believe the decrease in antelope stems from a disease or virus that has become even more of a problem due to persistent dry weather and poor recruitment, but it’s not 100% right now. All they know currently is that numbers are going the wrong way for Texas’ pronghorn populations and antelope hunters.

Pronghorn Population Decline Spurs Trapping and Restocking

During the past two years, pronghorn populations have plummeted in the Marfa Plateau region. This decrease in antelope has influenced the total Trans-Pecos pronghorn population estimate for 2010, which hit a record low number of animals with an estimated 4,700 pronghorn across the Trans-Pecos region. With numbers holding steady in the panhandle, biologist are hoping to boost breeding pronghorn numbers in the Trans-Pecos by relocating some animals from the north.

Here’s the plan: The Wildlife Division of TPWD will lead an effort to trap pronghorn antelope in the Panhandle near Dalhart and move them out to the Marfa Plateau during late February of 2010. As of now, the scope of work involves trapping and transporting about 200 animals and releasing them on management-minded ranches near Valentine in the Trans-Pecos. The pronghorn population in this area has crashed and researchers hope that an infusion of new animals can restore self sustaining antelope herds to this area. The pronghorn decline and reintroduction into West Texas is being studied by TPWD and researchers from Sul Ross State University.

Texas Study Addresses Pronghorn Decline

Texas Pronghorn

The pronghorn is one of Texas’ great big game animals that was once found across the state, except for the piney woods of East Texas. And although most hunters refer to this species as antelope, pronghorn is the proper name. Although pronghorn numbers were once a big part of Texas hunting, they have declined because of habitat loss over the past 150 years and now it seems that decline has kicked in high gear.

In an effort to investigate an alarming and unexplained decline of pronghorn in far West Texas, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has awarded a 3 year $111,210 grant to the Borderlands Research Institute for Natural Resource Management at Sul Ross State University. The goal of the pronghorn project is to identify possible causes for the declining pronghorn herds and to evaluate two competing hypothesis regarding pronghorn survival and productivity.

Wildlife populations, especially those found in deserts, tend to increase and decrease in relation to habitat conditions. Nowhere is that more evident that in the desert Southwest and the Trans-Pecos region of Texas. Pronghorn numbers across this region have been dwindling since the drought of the 1990s. As expected, once the drought broke, pronghorn and other wildlife populations began to respond with increased reproduction and survival.

However, during the past three years when rainfall provided adequate habitat (food, cover, and water), pronghorn populations have plummeted, and pronghorn hunting in Texas has suffered along beside them. In 2010, pronghorn population estimates in the Trans-Pecos are the lowest since the 1970s with an estimated 4,713 pronghorn across the region. That does node bode well for Texas pronghorn, so let’s hope this study give biologist more information on managing these prairie-loving animals.