Pronghorn Antelope

(Antilocapra Americana)

Park Pronghorn are Threatened

Yellowstone is at risk of loosing pronghorn antelope forever. Learn more about what's threatening pronghorn in America's first national park, and NPCA's efforts to safeguard this icon.

Factoid #1

The latin name of the pronghorn, Antilocapra americana literally translates to “American goat-antelope”.

Factoid #2:

Pronghorn are listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the "Fastest Mammal on Land Over Long Distances." They can run 30 to 40 miles an hour for long distances, and can sprint up to 60 miles per hour. (Second only to the African cheetah!)

Factoid #3:

Migrating us much as 170 miles between the park and snow-free range to the south, Grand Teton's pronghorn participate in a journey that has been documented as one of the longest terrestrial migrations of any mammal in the lower 48 states.

Status:

Nationally stable. Some park populations are threatened.

Status of the Greater Yellowstone pronghorn:

Yellowstone's herd of about 290 animals is confined to a very small winter range, with insufficient amounts of the native forage they need. These conditions leave them isolated from other pronghorn in the area and at high risk for disease, predation, inbreeding, and mass casualties in the face of a harsh winter. Scientists consider this herd threatened.

Status of the Grand Teton pronghorn:

With only 200 animals remaining, scientists have characterized the Grand Teton band of pronghorn as threatened. The key to preserving Grand Teton's pronghorn lies in protecting their historic migration corridor between the park and their winter range to the south.

Population:

There are close to 1 million pronghorn antelope in North America.

Threats:

Despite their exceptional swiftness, pronghorn are almost entirely unable to jump. Hence, the fences that accompanied human settlement of the west have dramatically affected pronghorn, altering and ultimately blocking many of their historic migration routes. Pronghorn cannot survive without access to snow-free winter range.

Survival:

In the early 19th century, pronghorn numbered between 30 and 60 million. European settlers almost hunted them to extinction, their numbers dropping to approximately 15,000 by 1915. In one of America’s greatest wildlife restoration success stories, they have since rebounded. Today, almost 1 million pronghorn roam western North America from Canada to northern Mexico.

Their color can range from tan to brown, with large white patches under their stomachs, on their rumps, and on their face and neck. Bucks have distinctive black patches on their cheeks and between their nose and eyes. Both bucks and does can have horns (about 70 percent of adult does have them). Doe's horns are small and rarely pronged, while buck's horns can reach 13 to 16 inches long, and are pronged. Pronghorn are unusual in that they shed the outer sheath of their horns each fall, regrowing them to their maximum height by mid-summer.

Pronghorn's main defenses against predators are their sharp senses and speed. Pronghorn have exceptional vision with unusually large eyes set wide apart to foster good peripheral vision. They also have highly developed senses of smell and hearing. When a pronghorn senses danger, it signals to others in its herd by raising the white hairs of its rump, a flash that can be seen from some distance. Its outstanding speed can be attributed to a light bone structure and relatively large lungs, heart, and windpipe are among the adaptations enabling pronghorn to be excellent runners. This is one reason their preferred habitat is the open sagebrush grasslands where they can see for long distances and run unencumbered.

National Parks:

Pronghorn antelope can be found in Yellowstone National Park, WY; Grand Teton National Park, WY; Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, AZ; Wind Cave National Park, SD; Petrified Forest National Park, AZ; Great Basin National Park, NV.

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