Pre-season pronghorn classification surveys were recently completed in the Beaver Rim pronghorn herd unit consisting of hunt areas 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 74, and 106. Does, fawns, yearling bucks, and adult bucks were counted along the same survey routes that have been used for 20+ years. Just under 11,000 pronghorn were observed this year, making it a record year.
The high number of pronghorn counted was likely due to a variety of factors including good population numbers, cooler weather during the count keeping pronghorn more active, efficiencies of using GPS devices versus maps, and drier weather concentrating animals near water sources or green forage.
The surveys showed that the Beaver Rim herd unit’s population numbers are doing well overall, however the number of fawns per 100 does was lower than expected (see Figure 1), and counts of yearling bucks were also lower than expected. The timing of cold spring rains and snows may have caused some health issues for pregnant does and survival of fawns. In addition, late-summer (July-September) was extremely dry in central Wyoming, leaving some large areas of sagebrush in very poor condition during the summer growing season and with almost no leaves going into this winter (especially in hunt areas 65 and 66). Poor habitat condition in these areas going into the winter may make winter survival for these animals more difficult this year.
On the bright side, the number of adult bucks 2+ years old seems quite good, the population is at objective, and overall there are 61 bucks per 100 does (Figure 2) which should be setting this fall season up as a successful one for hunters in the Beaver Rim herd unit.