Dean M. Chriss
Pronghorn Buck in a Meadow

Pronghorn Buck in Meadow

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Pronghorn are not antelopes but they are known colloquially in North America as the American antelope, pronghorn antelope, prairie antelope, or simply antelope. They have the largest eyes of any hoofed animal in relation to their body size. Pronghorn eyes are dark with defined eyelashes, and provide them with nearly 300 degrees of vision. Both males and females can have horns. Female horns are much smaller, reaching only 4 inches in length, while male horns can be as long as 20 inches.

Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, the pronghorn was very abundant in the region of the Plains Indians and the region of the indigenous people of the Northwest Plateau. It was hunted as a principal food source by the local tribes. The pronghorn featured prominently in Native American mythology and oral history. Lewis and Clark were the first Europeans to see pronghorns in the early 1800s. They referred to these animals as "antelope" or "goat". Clark was the first European to kill a pronghorn. By the 1920s, hunting pressure had reduced the pronghorn population to about 13,000. The protection of habitat and hunting restrictions have allowed pronghorn numbers to recover to an estimated population between 500,000 and 1,000,000. Two subspecies are still endangered in the United States. The Sonoran pronghorn has an estimated population of fewer than 300 in the United States and 200-500 in Mexico, while there are approximately 200 Peninsula pronghorn in Baja California.

All pronghorn follow the same migration corridors year after year, generation after generation. Today, the migration corridors that link the summer breeding grounds and winter grazing areas are being fragmented by roads, cities, fences and energy development. Habitat fragmentation is the main threat to the long term survival of America's pronghorn.