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Posts Tagged ‘West’


Once again, I delved into the Encyclopedia of Life to bring you an animal for this week.  It is the Pronghorn Antelope.

The Pronghorn Antelope in Motion

The pronghorn antelope is the only gazelle-like creature left on North America after the split of Pangea.  They live up to 10 years in the wild.  They stand around a meter and a half to the shoulder, but males are bigger than females.  Their wonderful horns are garnered on both genders, male and female.  Their sandy coats make it very difficult to see them in the American Western grasslands.  There, they feed easily on grass and other small bushes.

Pronghorns are naturally very curious animals.  As a result, they would inspect anything that moved, including predators.  Since they are extremely fast, the second fastest land animal after cheetahs, they could escape from most of their predators.  But, when humans began to hunt them, they could not outrun bullets.  Thus, their own curiosity, nearly caused their extinction.  Fortunately, conservation efforts have brought the populations up to a healthy level once more.  Now, however, their status is once again threatened because of the destruction of their habitat by increased urban sprawl. 

An interesting fact about Pronghorns is that Pronghorn fawns are actually safer living around wolves.  Why?  Because it seems wolves will kill coyotes, the main predators of Pronghorn fawns.  Thus, hunters who kill wolves for killing the Pronghorn are actually perpetuating the problem.

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The United States government will soon decide whether or not to completely ban salmon fishing on the west coast for around 7 months.  The proposed bill is a response to a terrible fall in salmon population numbers.  Fishermen, however, protest this bill as it may destroy their business.

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A Wild Chinook Salmon

The wild Pacific Chinook salmon, a staple food for western Americans, and at one point very strong numbered fish have been killed at drastic rates causing their populations to plunge.  Scientists count their numbers through a process called “returns,” in which the number of salmon swimming from freshwater to spawning grounds in the oceans is counted.  The estimated number of Chinook salmon currently alive is somewhere around 56,000, while a healthy population numbers around 122,000.

However, do not blame the fishermen solely.  As a result of global warming, the oceans have begun to warm, meaning there is less food in the water.  This inhibits salmon from taking the journey to the ocean to give mate.  The water also contains pollution from the heavy industry near the coast and the river levels are low from the increased use of natural fresh water for farm irrigation purposes.

According to Proffesor Moyle of The University of California at Davis, an expert on salmon, the number of young salmon found this year in the spawning areas are at best at a quarter of what it should be. He, like most other experts, foresees further gloom ahead for both fishermen and fish.  It has come high time that we need to protect our waters.  It is like fisherman Darus Peak says, “We have got to start looking at ourselves… we need to go back to our natural resources, clean up our natural resources and then go on from there.”

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