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Common name: Pronghorn

Scientific name: Antilocapra americana

Other names: Antelope

Identification: A truly unique North American species. Colors are white with rusty brown/tan. White rump. Males have black cheek patch. Both males and females have black horns which are technically horn sheaths, up to 18 inches (46 cm) in length. Body 4 ½ feet (1.4 m) long, 3 feet (1 m) tall at shoulder. Weigh up to 150 lbs. (68 kg) but typically weigh 100-120 lbs. (45-54 kg). Hoofed with two toes. Large eyes. Small mane.

Habitat: Prairie, sagebrush, high desert.

Food: Sagebrush, shrubs, forbs, grass, cactus.

Reproduction: Polygamous (one male will breed many females). Breeding begins late July through early October, dependent upon latitude. Territorial bucks do most of the breeding and gather females into a harem. Stray does are chased back into the harem and less dominant males are chased away. Gestation is 252 days and does typically give birth alone to twins. Females mature at 16 months and ready to breed.

Behavior: Horn sheaths of males are shed annually after the rut. Winter herds sometimes move great distances such as those in northern Montana/southern Saskatchewan. Pronghorn almost always crawl under a fence rather than jump over. When alarmed will flare their white rump to alert other pronghorn of danger. Exceptional eyesight and one of the fastest mammals on the planet.

Conservation status: Historically there were 35 million pronghorn in North America but overhunting drastically reduced their numbers down to 20,000 by 1924. Hunting and conservation groups were essential in helping agencies establish harvest limits and pronghorn populations rebounded. Found in many western US states and populations are stable. Most states have a well regulated hunting season. One subspecies, the Sonoran pronghorn (Antilocapra americana sonoriensis) found along the Arizona-Mexico border, is listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.


Recommended resources:

Built for Speed: A Year in the Life of Pronghorn by John Byers.2003. Harvard University Press.
Pronghorn: Ecology and Management by Bart O’Gara et al. 2004. University Press of Colorado.