By Kendall King
Southern Alberta Newspapers
Since its inception in 2009, the Pronghorn Corridor Enhancement Project – an effort to make fencing easier for pronghorns to pass through – has grown in popularity, so much so there is a waiting list for the 2022 year.
“It’s a project initiated by Alberta Fish and Game Association, for which Alberta Conservation Association has been a partner with since the start,” Paul Jones, senior biologist with the Alberta Conservation Association, told southern Alberta Newspapers.
“Pronghorns, even though they have the physical ability to jump fences like deer, would tend to crawl underneath the bottom wire (of wire fences),” said Jones. “When it’s too low, fences become barriers to their movement and a lot of times, when it’s barbed, it scrapes their back and pulls hair off of it. (As a result the pronghorns can) get frost bite on their backs and on their necks.”
“The goal of the project is to work with landowners to raise the bottom wire (of wire fences) to 46 cm and, when it’s barbed, replace it with double stranded wire.”
When the wire is raised and no longer has barbs, pronghorn are easily and safely able to pass through, while ranch animals, such as cattle and horses are still contained.
“It’ll translate into greater survivor-ship of pronghorns,” said Jones.
While Jones says Alberta’s pronghorn numbers remain relatively steady, some subspecies residing in other geographic locations are considered threatened or endangered.
“Pronghorn are endemic to North America. They evolved on the plains of North America. They’re closest relative genetically, is the giraffe of Africa – which is kind of a neat thing. They are the second fastest land mammal behind cheetahs. They can reach speeds of up to 100 km an hour when they run,” said Jones.
The project not only helps to protect Alberta’s existing pronghorn population, it also comes with no cost to landowners.
“The AFGA raises funds to purchase all of the materials and then we do a fencing weekend project where (AFGA and ACA staff and volunteers) tack up the wire for the landowner. So, really, it’s a win-win situation for the sportsmen, conservation groups and the landowners,” said Jones.
T.J. Schwanky, wildlife projects facilitator with the Alberta Fish and Game Association, is grateful to all individuals who donate time to the project.
“This project is volunteer driven and they are the heart of the project,” he told Southern Alberta Newspapers
Jones is grateful to volunteers and landowners who work together to make the Pronghorn Corridor Enhancement Project possible.
“Since the project began in 2009, we’ve done over 560 km of fencing in the grasslands of southern Alberta – just a little bit north of CFB Suffield, down towards the Montana border,” said Jones.
Information about the project has largely spread by word-of-mouth, he said, however landowners who have not yet taken part but are interested are invited to contact the AFGA or ACA for more information or to join the waiting list.