Antelope migration hindered by solar farm

Antelope migration hindered by solar farm

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Pronghorn

A group of pronghorn stand in a field on the edge of Mills. The Wyoming Game & Fish Department says over 1,000 antelope were bottlenecked near the Sweetwater Solar facility west of Green River in late November as they attempted to migrate to winter ranges.

GREEN RIVER (WNE) — More than 1,000 antelope were bottlenecked near the Sweetwater Solar facility west of Green River in late November as they attempted to migrate to winter ranges. The antelope were forced onto Wyo. Highway 372.

According to Mark Zornes, Regional Wildlife Management Coordinator for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, pronghorn have traditionally migrated through the area because it’s a spot where snow blows away from a nearby ridge, creating an easy passage for wildlife. However, those attributes have also made the area an attractive spot for solar development.

While Zornes says the developer behind the Sweetwater Solar facility increased the right of way to the nearby highway to 600 feet at the request of the WGFD, the department had concerns the migration corridor would be hampered.

According to a letter submitted to the Sweetwater County Land Use Office regarding the solar project’s proposal April 27, 2018, the WGFD was concerned with how the facility’s perimeter fence would cause antelope and big game to funnel onto Wyo. Highway 372. The WGFD feared this would cause increased collisions between vehicles and wildlife.

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