WCS North America

Pronghorn

Sometimes called 'antelope', pronghorn are only distantly related to antelopes. Pronghorns are true North America natives that are found nowhere else in the world. They have roamed the plains and deserts of this continent for at least the last million years. They are the lone member of the family Antilocapra americana, which literally means "American goat-antelope."

With keen vision and great speed (pronghorn can reach speeds of over 60 miles an hour), pronghorn are ideally adapted to the wide open grasslands and sagebrush steppe ecosystems of North America. Both sexes have horns, but the female's are only tiny spikes and are rarely pronged as are the twelve to eighteen-inch horns of the male.

Since 2003, WCS conservation scientists have been involved in a long-term study of the Path of the Pronghorn, an age-old migration route that  connects summer range in Grand Teton National Park with winter range far to the south in the western Wyoming's Green River Valley. The Path is:

  • One of the longest overland mammal migrations in North America, and the longest left in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
  • The only remaining pronghorn migration route to and from Grand Teton National Park.
  • More than 100 miles long, but at its narrowest, less than 150 yards wide.
  • More than 90% on federal lands.


Update from the Field:

At a time when the world’s energy demands are growing, uncertainty remains about the effects of energy development on wildlife and strategies to minimize consequent impacts. In many cases, efforts to minimize potential harmful effects on wildlife are hampered by a lack of information on past trends in ungulate abundance, associated and independent effects of weather, and site-specific responses to the development and production of energy resources. As the construction of facilities and infrastructure to harvest these natural gas resources continues, it has become clear that the absence of biological data on wildlife is an impediment to prudent land use planning.

In 2005, at the request of Shell Exploration and Production Company, Wildlife Conservation Society researchers embarked on a 5-year study of pronghorn in the Upper Green River Basin of western Wyoming to understand the potential for winter-related effects of gas field development and infrastructure. This study affords wildlife managers, and others concerned with wildlife, the opportunity to evaluate the effects of natural gas field development on pronghorn through a long-term research program with the results potentially serving as  a model throughout the Rocky Mountains, North America, and the globe, where natural gas fields will be developed.

Read the full report here

Activities

Pronghorn Field Program

For almost 6,000 years, pronghorn have made yearly migrations between their summer range in Grand Teton National Park and their winter range in the Upper Green River Valley in western Wyoming. Their migration corridor, the Path of the Pronghorn, is one of the longest large mammal migration corridors remaining in North America, and the longest left in the GYE. WCS is leading the effort to secure recognition and permanent protection for this fragile migration route. Using field-based research, outreach and cooperative actions to inform and change land-use policies and practices, we are working to ensure that pronghorn will be able to make this spectacular migration for another 6,000 years. Read More >>

Pronghorn migration along the Path of the Pronghorn

WCS researchers are using global positioning system technology and geospatial analysis to monitor pronghorn during their semi-annual migration between Grand Teton National Park and the upper Green River valley in western Wyoming. Using this information WCS is working with a broad range of stakeholders to minimize threats to this migration and increase pronghorn survival. Read More >>

Latest Publications

All Pronghorn Publications >>

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Contact

WCS North America Program
212 South Wallace Avenue, Suite 101 Bozeman, MT, 59715 USA
(406) 522-9333

Key Staff

Jon Beckmann
Connectivity Initiative Coordinator
Renee Seidler
Pronghorn Field Leader
All Pronghorn Staff >>