By Ralph Maughan
If 53 are now trapped in “The Hole,” how many will survive?
The Jackson Hole News and Guide has reported that 53 pronghorn antelope have been spotted on the National Elk Refuge well after the herd normally migrates out of cold and snowy Jackson Hole, over the Gros Ventre Mountains, and then down southward to the Pinedale area to winter on the edge of the Green River Desert.
Much of this is now a developed natural gas field, but the herd has grown nonetheless.
They have been doing this migration for thousands of years, and recently the herd has grown to a near record (about 400). However, when some of the pronghorn don’t understand or heed the changing season, they often do not survive in Jackson Hole even in average winters.
People like to see these fast running animals, but not see them starve or freeze to death, but that might happen to about 13% of the herd.
Recently the herd benefited greatly by the construction of a wildlife overpass over the busy highway near Pinedale. This overpass has almost eliminated the pronghorn and other animals that were hit near the chokepoint at Trapper’s Point at the edge of their wintering range. We have done several stories on this.