For many visitors to Grand Teton National Park, pronghorn antelope are as much a part of the landscape as the rocky peaks and sagebrush flats. It’s surprising for many to learn that the pronghorn is a species at risk of becoming extinct in the Tetons. Teton Park’s pronghorn depend on one, narrow migration corridor more than 150 miles long to get from their winter habitat south of Jackson Hole and back into the national park for their summer grounds each year. NPCA has set a long-term goal of preserving the Grand Teton National Park pronghorn population by working to protect the historic migration from the Wyoming Upper Green River Valley into Grand Teton National Park. The Grand Teton Field Office has worked for many years to preserve the pronghorn’s bi-annual migration into Grand Teton National Park through policy initiatives, by supporting conservation easements, and through community advocacy work and educational outreach. We succeeded in preserving a protected corridor into the park, across adjacent public and private lands, supported the construction of wildlife overpasses and underpasses, and enhanced fencing through five distinct wildlife-friendly fence modification projects.
Why Preserve the Migration?
Pronghorn antelope are known for their mass migrations, which are the longest distances documented for any terrestrial mammal in the lower 48 states.
There is serious concern that the historic migration route that antelope have followed from Grand Teton National Park to the Upper Green River Valley for the past 6,000 years may be threatened as a result of blocked migration corridors due to energy development, commercial growth and residential sprawl. Along with the new ranchettes that fragment existing habitat, increased development is bringing new fences, roads, and greater impacts to wildlife.
The Upper Green River Valley supports a population of 46,000 antelope. Among them is the Grand Teton Park band, which migrates each year to summer habitat in Grand Teton National Park. They are characterized as a threatened population since there are only approximately 400 animals left in the herd. The decrease in numbers of migrating pronghorn are largely due to bottlenecks (obstacles created by industrial, residential and commercial development) along the route. The only way to preserve the park herd is to protect this historic migration route.
NPCA Policy Actions:
- We work with agency officials to support pronghorn corridor protection, and to date, we have successfully protected a public lands corridor across the park, national forest and the National Elk Refuge.
- We successfully urged the Teton County commissioners to pass a resolution in support of corridor protection.
- NPCA supported the Wyoming Department of Transportation in funding two wildlife overpasses and six underpasses along the “Path of the Pronghorn” in the Green River Valley.
- We have met with oil ad gas companies to incorporate best practices in field operations and to encourage the funding of conservation easements.
- Our program involves strong outreach to local and national media and has resulted in good media coverage for preservation initiatives.
- NPCA coordinates with conservation partners working in the area to raise public awareness and involvement to preserve the migration.
- We helped fund interpretive display to educate people about how wildlife crossing structures, such as overpasses and underpasses, preserve pronghorn migration.
- NPCA has sponsored five fence-modification projects both within and outside of Grand Teton National Park to allow safe migration of pronghorn and other park wildlife. These projects have resulted in the modification of more than 15 miles of fence.
- NPCA supported the publication of an educational booklet providing hands-on advice for landowners about wildlife-friendly fencing practices.