Cabeza Prieta Unit 46A Work Project
April 26-27, 2003

Saving the Sonoran Pronghorn

In 1998 there were approximately 140 Sonoran Pronghorn in the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, giving hope to the premise this endangered species could stabilize and even increase its population.  In 2003, with approximately 20 animals remaining, the US Fish and Wildlife Service via an emergency clause, was able to coordinate a combined effort with the Arizona Antelope Foundation, the Yuma Rod and Gun Club, and the AZ Game & Fish Dept., to construct a permanent water source for the remaining animals. What follows are the details of that project.

 First however, what happened?  From 140 to 20 animals in less than 5 years?  Simple really, no rain, no water source, and no food.  The last 5 years of drought depleted the water sources and decimated the pronghorn’s food supply.  Over a 2 week span in July 2002, 20 fawns died because their mothers couldn’t feed them. Through the rest of the summer and fall, half the remaining adults died.

 Why didn’t someone step in before the inevitable happened?  A number of people, organizations, and government agencies tried. Red tape, restrictions and environmental “friends” stopped the efforts. 

 The weekend of April 26-27 saw the construction of one of the most interesting water projects you’ll (n)ever see!  The emergency clause allowed access and the ability to excavate and bury large 20’ pipes, 24” in diameter.  Enough pipe was laid to hold 10,000 gallons of water.  It was laid to allow a gravity feed of water to a small ground level drinker. The pipe was then buried and the desert restored, with rocks and vegetation to hide the effort!  4500 gallons of water were added to start it and now our remaining animals have a water source.  No fancy devices will be needed to keep the water flowing.  Small rock and concrete dams were erected on an adjacent hillside and constructed to blend into the surroundings.

 As additional efforts are studied to ensure a food supply for the remaining animals, our hearty thanks go to the aforementioned  groups and AAF volunteers Brian & Dorothy Dolan, Bill Luffy Sr., Bill Luffy Jr., Don Johnson, Richard Ockenfels, and Jerry Guevin who participated in this project.

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