Every member of The Southern New Mexico Chapter is a conservationist on many levels. From their membership dollars that go to support the SCI Foundation's global activities, to local chapter projects, to support of federal and local game and fish agencies through purchase of licenses and sporting equipment, members of SCI are conservationists of the best kind.
In 2009 the Chapter partnered with Lincoln National Forest, Rocky Mtn Elk Foundation and several other like minded organizations to participate in the Lincoln National Forest "Maverick Thinning Project". This project is designed to remove overgrown shrubs (pinion & juniper) on several thousand acres southeast of Ruidoso. Previous thinning projects have demonstrated a significant improvement in the overall habitat of big game animals as well as numerous non-game species.
We also participated with Texas SCI Chapters in a project conducted by Borderlands Research Institute for Natural Resource Management at Sul Ross University. This project, led by Dr. Louis A. Harveson, is designed to study a crisis involving the West Texas Pronghorn Antelope. While this specific species of Antelope has experienced wild population swings since they had begun to be formally tracked in 1978, the current data demonstrated that the herd was crashing.
Dr. Harveson requested funds to conduct scientific research to determine the cause of the decline. With the combined contributions made by several chapters, Dr. Harveson was able to fund his research. On the opening day of hunting season for this specific species of Antelope, Dr. Harveson and a team of student researchers, with the cooperation of local hunters, were able to harvest and collect biological samples for his research.
The result of their research concluded that a parasite was responsible for the decline in populations. Since the natural habitat of Pronghorn Antelope is shared by cattle produced for domestic consumption they were able to identify that the parasite came from the cattle droppings. Since the two populations share the same water sources, the water was subsequently determined to be contaminated and a root cause of the decline within the Pronghorn Antelope populations.
We will be in contact with Dr. Harveson to stay appraised of his further research and plan to resolve this catastrophic impact on the West Texas Pronghorn Antelope population. We foresee that this research will have a positive impact upon the New Mexico Antelope herds as well as the West Texas population.