WCS releases third year of pronghorn data
by Wildlife Conservation Society press release
March 11, 2009
The Wildlife Conservation Society has released its third report on pronghorn and natural gas drilling in Wyoming’s Upper Green River Basin. The report revealed that while most pronghorn appear to be unaffected by gas drilling in the study areas, others are losing ground to areas of highest development.
WCS has been studying pronghorn for the past three years in the Upper Green River Basin, which has undergone exponential natural gas development in recent years. The region holds vast reserves of natural gas, including the Pinedale Anticline – one of the largest natural gas fields in North America.
Preliminary data shows that pronghorn from gas fields compared to pronghorn in more wild areas show no difference in survival rates and stress levels. However, GPS data show that some pronghorn are avoiding areas of high development – particularly in the Pinedale Anticline Project Area (PAPA) and the Jonah gas fields.
Last year for the first time in this study, WCS researchers investigated both fawns and adult males, rather than limiting to adult females as in the previous two years. The research showed that the relative proportion of adult males to females increased throughout the winter, but it could be attributed to better male survival rates than females.
"Preliminary findings indicate that pronghorn are reducing their use of habitat near areas with the most development on the Pinedale Anticline and industrial areas, but the activity is not uniform across the population and there has been no corresponding impact on the pronghorn herd," said WCS Scientist Jon Beckmann.
"Management actions that benefit wildlife have been incorporated into the recently released Record of Decision (ROD) for the Pinedale Anticline," said John Bickley, Development Manager for Shell Rocky Mountain Production, LLC. "The inclusion of a liquid gathering system, concentrated development with directional drilling and successful reclamation in the ROD will help ensure that research will continue to find no significant impact on the pronghorn herd over the life of the project."
This multi-year study is voluntarily funded by Ultra Resources and Shell Exploration & Production Company, in cooperation with Questar Market Resources. The third-year results may not be indicative of the study’s final results, which will be further analyzed for trends after the completion of the five-year study.
The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth.