For the first time since the early years of the 20th Century, pronghorn antelope are again roaming free in the Antelope Valley area.
Fifty-five pronghorns, part of a group of 114 live-trapped in Modoc County last week, were trucked to Kern County's Tejon Ranch and released at a site near the edge of the Antelope Valley where, as recently as the 1880s, they roamed by the thousands.
The only significant pronghorn habitat remaining in California is the northeastern corner of the state. More than 7,000 run free in the plains country of Modoc and Siskiyou counties. Of the other pronghorns captured last week in southwestern Modoc county, 51 were later released in eastern Mono county, and eight were given to a research station at Hermosillo, Mexico.
The primary purpose of the project was to relieve the pressure of pronghorns grazing on ranches in Modoc County's Big Valley. Helicopters were used to drive the animals into corrals, where they were doctored and tagged. Some were fitted with radio collars.
Before the mid-19th Century, pronghorns roamed the hills and flatlands of the San Fernando, San Gabriel, Antelope, Perris and Moreno valleys and the Baldwin Hills. In his book, "Here Roamed the Antelope," Glenn A. Settle quoted Antelope Valley pioneer John D. Covington (1867-1949):
"When I was a boy, 30 cowboys and myself made a count one day and counted, as nearly as we could, 7,000 antelope."
In a 1906 book, "California's Mammals," Frank Stephens wrote: "In 1877 I saw two dozen antelope near Perris. In 1878 I saw one near Riverside. Today (1906), there are very few in southeastern California."
The Department of Fish and Game reminds fishermen that many trout waters of southwest Inyo County will be open to fishing Saturday, almost two months ahead of the April 27 general Eastern Sierra trout season opener.
The areas opening Saturday, with some exceptions, are bounded by the Inyo County line to the south and west, Independence Creek on the north and Highway 395 on the east. Exceptions: the Cottonwood Creek drainage system, including Cottonwood Lakes 5 and 6, the only two of the six Cottonwood Lakes ever open to fishing.
Briefly Arizona's Game and Fish Department has 2,700 unsold 1985 javelina handgun-archery-muzzleloader permit-tags. . . . The state turkey-calling championships will be held March 9 at the Richmond (Calif.,) Rod and Gun Club. . . . Biologists checking fishermen's stringers on the opening day of the ocean salmon sport season last Saturday at San Francisco Bay reported the best opening-day fishing in 10 years. . . . The DFG's annual tour of Mono County's sage grouse strutting grounds will be held March 16, starting at 5:30 a.m., with those interested meeting at the corner of Benton Crossing Road and Highway 395, 35 miles north of Bishop. . . . A summer wilderness program for women has been announced by Mariah Wilderness Expeditions of El Cerrito, Calif., which includes whitewater rafting, canoeing, rock climbing, sea kayaking and backpacking.