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Plans to prevent future train collisions with pronghorns

Pronghorn antelope
Idaho Fish and Game
Pronghorn antelope

HAMER, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - In an area north of Hamer, herds of pronghorn antelope love to roam.

During the winter months, these animal's movements are impacted by the heavy snow according to James Brower from Idaho Fish and Game, "they're trying to take the path of least resistance and where that is right here is along these railroad tracks they're plowed pretty regularly, and they see it as a thoroughfare."

But railroad tracks aren't the safest path. This month, two separate trains have collided with herds of pronghorn, killing a total of 96.

"There's not that many to begin with, so that can have population-level effects. It's devastating when you have that many animals that are, that are wiped out," Brower said.

Big accidents like the ones this month don't happen every year. Idaho Fish and Game last saw a similar occurrence in 2011.

Still, a short term solution is in place. Generous landowners surrounding the area have been working with Idaho Fish and Game to create compact areas filled with hay, to lure the pronghorn away from the railroad tracks.

A long term solution will begin by researching the herds.

"We're going to put some collars on them and figure out where they're going, how they're utilizing the landscape and the challenges that are ahead of them," Bower said.

The research will begin this summer and last for two years, Idaho Fish and Game is hoping to gather enough research about the population size and the herd's migration throughout the year. With this information, they're hoping to identify the obstacles that are in the way of these pronghorn getting where they want to be safe.

"It's going to be a pretty complicated issue, there's a lot of people involved, there's a lot of entities involved, but I do know that everybody is really concerned and they're on board and we're looking forward to finding some solutions," Brower said.

Any edible meat recovered from the two accidents was distributed to needy families and food banks throughout the region.

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Jilliana Colin

Jilliana Colina

Jilliana is a reporter for Local News 8 and KIDK Eyewitness News 3.


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