NESPELEM - During Special Session, Nov. 5, the Colville Business Council voted to approve a requirement that all new fence construction within the Colville Tribes’ pronghorn management areas will be built within guidelines intended to protect pronghorn.
The resolution notes, “The goal of this requirement is to promote the safe and effective movement of pronghorn through available habitat while still restricting livestock to approved areas.”
The guidelines would require four strand fences to have smooth wire on the top and bottom strands; barbed wire would be
accepted with in the middles two strands; the top strand could be no higher than 48 inches; and the bottom strand could be no lower than 18 inches.
“Currently Fish and Wildlife and Range, our two programs that do a lot of fencing, we utilize this pronghorn fencing specification but especially after the Cold Springs Fire a lot of folks are going to be applying for funding through NRCS to have fencing put back in place,” said CTFW biologist Sam Rushing in Chambers during Natural Resources Committee, Nov. 3. “The NRCS doesn’t require these specs. They do recommend them, but they don’t require them. They do require people to follow local law. This would require NRCS to in turn require people who they fund to follow this specification.”
NRC Chair Jarred-Michael Erickson, formerly a biologist for the CTFW, noted pronghorn crawl under fences as they are generally are unable to jump over fences.
The Cold Springs Fire burned a large portion of the tribes’ pronghorn management area on the western side of the Colville Indian Reservation when it burned nearly 190,000 acres in September.
When asked, Rushing noted CTFW did not yet know the full impact on pronghorn.
“We did not find any deceased,” said Rushing. “I’ve been out since and found small groups of 15 to 20 [in the burn area]. We haven’t done our aerial survey yet to get a full picture, and while I did find dead deer, I have found no dead pronghorn.”
Last Feb., which was before last year’s babies were born, Rushing noted CTFW estimated there to be 115 pronghorn on the Colville Reservation.
CTFW relocated 52 pronghorn onto the reservation in 2016 and an additional 98 pronghorn in 2017.
CBC unanimously approved the resolution.