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Carrizo Plain: Exploring 'the Serengeti of the West'

By: Jaymi Heimbuch on May 13, 2013, 2:26 p.m.
A pronghorn stands alone in a field in the National Carrizo Plain Monument.

Photo: Jaymi Heimbuch

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Barely hanging in there

Pronghorn are a common species across the western United States. In the early 1800s there were an estimated 35 million of them, but hunters took their toll on the species. By the mid 1920s they were nearing extinction with only around 20,000 animals left. With increased protection, the species bounced back, and now there are more than 700,000 individuals across western states. However, there are only a few spots in California where the species can be seen, and one of them is the Carrizo Plain National Monument where a herd of about 30 lives. Here, the herd is still struggling to survive, and sadly boasts the lowest survival rates for fawns. While other reintroduced herds see about 25 percent of fawns survive to be large enough to outrun coyotes, in Carrizo Plain the survival rate is only around 10 percent. One reason for the lower survival rate is a relic of farm life: miles of fencing.