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Pronghorn Antilocapra americana


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credit: Leupold, James C

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Alternate name: Antelope

Family: Antilocarpridae, Pronghorns view all from this family

Description North America’s only native antelope has unique coloration and horns. Has a stocky build on long legs, and short black horns. Cinnamon-colored body, with a white rump, belly, and facial markings. Male horns have a forward pointing “prong,” while female horns are smaller, usually lacking prongs. The horn sheaths are shed in November and quickly regrown each year. Some females do not grow the sheaths. Male is larger and has a black line on the lower jaw. Hairs on the rump and back of the neck can be erected.

Dimensions 1.3-1.4m, 10-15cm, 42-59kg; / 1.3-1.5m, 10-13cm, 41-50kg

Endangered Status The Sonoran Pronghorn, a subspecies of the Pronghorn, is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as endangered in Arizona. Once abundant in its range, the Pronghorn declined in numbers almost as precipitously as the American Bison. In 1913, owing to overhunting, the enmity of ranchers, and the fencing of rangeland, which hampered migration and foraging (Pronghorns cannot leap fences like deer—they crawl under them instead), there were only 500 Pronghorn left. Now, as a result of efforts at transplantation and management of herds by game departments, the Pronghorn’s range is expanding and its numbers have increased to more than a million. The Sonoran subspecies, however, remains rare, numbering only about 140 individuals in the U.S. Conservationists suspect that the shrinking of its habitat, due to development and ranching, and poaching (mainly in Mexico) prevent its population from growing.

Habitat Grasslands & prairies, Scrub, shrub & brushlands

Range Plains, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Texas, California, Northwest, Western Canada

Discussion Speeds of up to 72km per hour have been recorded. Eyes are large and project sideways, yielding excellent peripheral vision in their open habitats. Heavy eyelashes serve as sun shades. Feeds on a variety of plants, especially forbs and shrubs, and grasses during spring greenup. Relies on good vision and speed to escape predators in open, grassland habitats from sea level to over 3000m, but most common between 1200 and 1800m.