The Phoenix Field School program, a major collaborative effort between ACE, BLM Phoenix District Office, Phoenix College, Arizona Center for Youth Resources (ACYR), and Arizona@Work, selects five students each semester to attend weekly integrative college classes and field projects, focusing on local conservation efforts.
In mid-October of 2018, the Field School crew worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge near Ajo, AZ to construct “bomas” (fenced enclosures) for threatened Sonoran pronghorn.
Due to human influence and habitat fragmentation, along with extreme drought conditions, the Sonoran pronghorn range and population has decreased dramatically in the past few decades. As a response, the USFWS began a rehabilitative captive-breeding program in 2003, using bomas to temporarily house pronghorn before transferring the animals in pairs to pre-planned areas where population growth is desired. The Cabeza Prieta NWR has also provided additional resources to support safe pronghorn population growth for decades, including multiple foraging plots and water catchments supplied by rain.
The Field School crew worked with Cabeza Prieta NWR and Arizona Game and Fish staff, along with local volunteers, to outline the fenced bomas with several layers of hanging blankets, aiming to protect the pronghorn from injury, as well as to allow for shade inside the enclosure. Each layer was intricately secured with sturdy hog rings and fencing pliers, ensuring a safe space for the animals to graze in the weeks leading up to capture.
At the end of the project, the crew was able to use a telescopic lens to view an existing boma filled with Sonoran pronghorn. A member of Arizona Game and Fish discussed how pronghorn and other wildlife can be collared and tracked using telemetry, or the automatic communication transmission of data, which assists in measuring population dynamics and redistribution efforts.
For more information on Phoenix Field School, in partnership with ACE, BLM, ACYR, and Phoenix College click here: ACE Youth and Community Programming