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The Sublette Pronghorn herd death toll numbers were discussed at recent Pinedale meeting

Three antelope lay dead in the snow.
Caitlin Tan
Wyoming Public Media

The Sublette Pronghorn herd death toll from this winter was shared at a recent natural gas meeting in Pinedale.

A board meeting for the Pinedale Anticline Project Office (PAPO), a natural gas project in the Pinedale area, was held. They hear updates on things like development, habitat and wildlife in the region.

Ashleigh Rhea, Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s habitat mitigation biologist, spoke about the Sublette Pronghorn herd.

“We're looking at greater than 75 percent mortality in that herd as a whole,” she said.

However, Rhea was referring to “as a whole” about the radio collar data on 415 of those animals, which doesn’t necessarily reflect the death toll of the entire herd.

Prior to this past winter, there were 40,000 animals in the herd. The devastation is because of a harsh winter and a rare bacterial pneumonia disease coupled together last winter. The department estimates the death toll for the entire herd is closer to 50 percent.

“It's kind of harsh news,” Rhea said.

The Sublette Pronghorn herd was previously considered one of the largest in the world, but it’s unclear if that’s true anymore.

To try to help the herd’s numbers, Wyoming Game and Fish is considering adding protections to its historic migration route. This would mean a formal designation of their migration corridor, which is a lengthy process ultimately ending with the Governor’s signature. It could take years.

But first, the department wants to hear from the public. There are several meetings coming up – Nov. 16 in Pinedale, Nov. 29 in Green River and Nov. 30 in Jackson. Public comment on the proposal is open through Jan. 5.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story said the 75 percent death toll was for the entire herd, but it’s been updated to reflect it was just for radio collared animals. Additionally, a previous version of the story said the decline was expected at 15 percent for the next couple years, which is inaccurate. 

Caitlin Tan is the Energy and Natural Resources reporter based in Sublette County, Wyoming. Since graduating from the University of Wyoming in 2017, she’s reported on salmon in Alaska, folkways in Appalachia and helped produce 'All Things Considered' in Washington D.C. She formerly co-hosted the podcast ‘Inside Appalachia.' You can typically find her outside in the mountains with her two dogs.
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