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Winter 2017

Newsletter Archive

 

Pronghorn Crossing: A New Miistakis lead Project in the Prairies

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Growing up in Calgary, I never dreamed that my heart would lie in the serenity of an open landscape such as Alberta's grasslands. I used to dream of the mountains and the trees and now I long for open fields and the smell of sage surrounding me with every step. I attended post-secondary school in Lethbridge, Alberta and spent my summers working with the Alberta Conservation Association on the Pronghorn Project and with MULTISAR conducting multi-species surveys, primarily focusing on species at risk. It is then that I started working in the grasslands and developed a passion for the wildlife that utilize Alberta's grasslands. After relocating to Medicine Hat, Alberta, I was lucky enough to become the local coordinator for Pronghorn Xing. I am thrilled that I get to be part of such an amazing project that focuses on the conservation of a species that I have long admired.

As an Albertan, I consider myself fortunate to have Pronghorn in our province. They are a unique animal, the fastest moving land mammal in North America, and the second fastest in the world, topping out at speeds of 80 km/ hour. Pronghorn are at their northern most range when in Alberta and Saskatchewan, and as such, they undertake seasonal and long distance movements to meet their life requirements. While the pronghorn thrives in the grasslands, it never adapted to jump over the fences that are all encompassing in the prairie landscape. However, fences are only one concern when migrating. Pronghorn are currently facing many difficulties, a major one being the highway systems in southeast Alberta and southwest Saskatchewan, primarily the Trans-Canada highway. This is where Pronghorn Xing aims to help!

Pronghorn Xing is an exciting new citizen science project that aims to help conserve the pronghorn population. It is a Miistakis Institute lead project that garners support from our very valued working partners, the Alberta Conservation Association, Alberta Transportation, Alberta Environment and Parks, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment, and Saskatchewan Government Insurance. In this project, seasonal movement pinch-points across Alberta and Saskatchewan's highways were identified by connectivity modelling and will be ground truthed using data collected by volunteers. Volunteers will be at the forefront of this project, documenting wildlife sightings while travelling the highway with the use of smartphone technology if they are a passenger or, if they are the driver, using an online mapping tool. The wildlife sightings will help to identify where wildlife, including pronghorn, are crossing the highway, where they are travelling adjacent to the highway, and where wildlife vehicle collisions are occurring. The information that is generated from the volunteers will be provided to government officials in Alberta and Saskatchewan and will be used to develop mitigation strategies that will help wildlife to cross the highway safely!

If you would like to be a part of wildlife conservation in AB and SK or know anyone who would be, download the Pronghorn Xing app in iTunes or from Google Play.

For more information on this exciting project, visit our website www.pronghornxing.org or contact myself, Megan Jensen at megan@pronghornxing.org.