F. E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE – An archery-only pronghorn hunt is underway at F.E. Warren Air Force Base. Registered hunters are temporarily allowed to hunt pronghorns on base during the hunting season to help with overpopulation.
The hunt will take place in the non-occupied areas north of Central Ave that are restricted from other forms of recreation. F.E. Warren has coordinated with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service to establish guidelines for the event.
Alex Schubert, USFWS Natural Resources manager, and Michael Woods, 90th Missile Wing occupational safety manager, answered the following questions concerning the hunt in 2017.
Q: Why do the pronghorn need to be hunted?
A: Warren’s pronghorn capacity is between 150 and 175. Currently, there are estimated to be 320 pronghorn on base. Overpopulation creates opportunities for disease and creates a potential hazard for drivers not only on base but along I-25. We have not seen a breakout of disease, but we don’t want to wait until it happens to react. We are being proactive to ensure these issues do not arise.
Q: Why hunt them and not just capture and move them?
A: Capturing and removing has been tried several times in the past. The process can be labor intensive, expensive and potentially dangerous to both people and animals. There is often a high rate of injury related to transporting and relocating the adults due to the high levels of stress the animals undergo. As many as 20 to 30 people may be needed for such a relocation effort with the costs equaling more than $600 per animal. They also did not assimilate well with native herds and instead grazed heavily on available crops or baled hay from private ranches. Due to the high costs involved and the low survival rate, the pronghorn relocation option for herd management was abandoned years ago.
Base leadership discussed several options and decided, along with WGFD and USFWS, that hunting is the most viable way to reduce the population.
Q: Is there a safety risk to personnel on base?
A: There is little or no risk to base personnel and residents during this hunting season. This is an archery-only hunt. Archery is the safest method of hunting. Most serious archery mishaps result from hunters falling out of tree stands - something that we won’t experience here at Warren. The range of an arrow is measured in yards. In that short distance, and especially since the hunt area is all prairie, the hunter can see everything or anybody in his/her shooting path. There is little chance of a non-hunter being in the area of a hunter or within range of his arrow.
Q: Who can participate?
A: Eligible personnel include active duty military, reservists, National Guard, military and DoD civilian retirees, federal affiliates assigned to F. E. Warren, and DoD civilian personnel who are assigned here and their dependents.
Q: How often will this need to happen?
A: Base leadership is looking into the feasibility of an annual hunt, but there has been no official decision made on the subject yet. The restrictions placed on the hunt itself will allow the base to complete its military mission as well as provide recreational hunting opportunities on the installation and better comply with the base’s responsibilities under the Sikes Act of 1960, (16 USC 670a-670o, 74 Stat. 1052), as amended. The Sikes Act recognizes the importance and value of military lands to natural resources. The Sikes Act promotes effectual planning, development, maintenance and coordination of wildlife, fish and game conservation and rehabilitation in military reservations.
Q: What are some things that people need to keep in mind while this is happening?
A: Unless a person wants to use the improved road to and from the Army Aviation Facility for running or biking, there is little reason for non-hunters to be in the area. Hunters cannot hunt from the road nor can they shoot towards a road, so there should be no conflicts. If for some official reason base personnel must enter the natural areas in the hunt area, they, like the hunters, should wear fluorescent orange material to make themselves visible.
Hunters will be allowed to use prefabricated blinds. While these may fool the antelope, they will be obvious to the human eye. Do not approach these blinds, but if necessary, shout and ensure the hunter is aware of your presence.
Finally, there is a very rare chance that a wounded animal could make its way into an occupied area either north or south of Central Ave. If residents see a wounded animal, they should contact the 90th Security Forces Squadron law enforcement desk at (307) 773-3501. Security Forces will notify Game & Fish personnel who will take care of the animal.
For any questions or concerns, please review the F. E. Warren AFB Limited Pronghorn Hunting Air Force Instruction (AFI 32-7064) at http://static.e-publishing.af.mil/production/1/af_a4/publication/afi32-7064/afi32-7064.pdf, or contact the Natural Resources Office at (307) 773-5098 or the Outdoor Recreation Center at (307) 773-2988.