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Range: AZ, CA, ID, MT, ND, NM, NV, OR, TX, WY
Status: State managed, hunted
Traveling at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour across the sagebrush sea, pronghorn are the fastest land mammal in North America. They are crepuscular, meaning that they are most active at dawn and dusk, however they can be spotted at any time of day.
The only species in their antilocapra genus, North American pronghorn are unique and have no relation to African antelope. However, pronghorns evolved alongside cheetahs. Many (but not all) pronghorn herds are migratory, traveling long distances to warmer climates in the fall, and back to greener locations in the spring. Fences are one of the greatest barriers to their survival during these migrations, because although pronghorn are fast, they don’t like to jump, so when a pronghorn encounters a fence it may not know how to get around it.
The pronghorn species discussed here include all pronghorn found in sagebrush country. These pronghorn are not protected under the Endangered Species Act and are managed by state wildlife agencies. There are two subspecies of pronghorn not discussed here that are protected as endangered under the Endangered Species Act: Peninsular pronghorn in Baja California and Sonoran pronghorn in Arizona.
- The Ecological Society of America, 2019: Across scales, pronghorn select sagebrush, avoid fences, and show negative responses to anthropogenic features in winter
- Journal of Mammalogy, 2008: Yellowstone Pronghorn Alter Resource Selection After Sagebrush Decline
- The Washington Post, 2015: Ten animals that will disappear with Western sagebrush
- High Country News, 2012: The perilous journey of Wyoming’s migrating pronghorn
- Hunting the Sagebrush Sea: This video by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game features hunters who share their experiences hunting pronghorn antelope in sagebrush country.
Somewhat similar in appearance to a long-legged goat, pronghorns are generally reddish tan in color, with white patches on the chest, neck, underbelly, and rear-end. Both males and females can have horns, although female horns are much smaller, reaching only 4 inches in length whereas male horns can be as long as 20 inches.
Pronghorns are also distinguished by their large, round eyes, the largest of any hoofed animal in relation to size. Their eyes are dark with defined eyelashes, and provide the animals with nearly 300 degrees of vision.
In addition to sagebrush country, pronghorn can be found in grasslands, deserts, river basins, and just about any wide open space. They once were found across the country from Canada to Mexico. The construction of highways and fences have altered the migration patterns of pronghorns, so establishing wildlife corridors and building wildlife-friendly fences are two helpful conservation practices that improve habitat conditions.
Sagebrush leaves are an important source of food and water for most pronghorns, particularly in winter. They are plant eaters, feeding on flowering plants, cacti, and grasses. Pronghorn have four chambers in their stomachs which help them to digest plant cellulose. They are also able to obtain most of the water they need to survive from the plants they eat.
- Montana: Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge
- Nevada: Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge
- Nevada: Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge
- Oregon: Hart Mountain National Wildlife Refuge
- Wyoming: National Bison Range
- Wyoming: Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge
In the United States, hunting is both a wildlife management tool and an outdoor tradition. The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation describes the way we manage access to wildlife to ensure healthy wildlife populations into the future. By respecting seasons and limits, hunters help ensure that wildlife populations are sustainable. Funds from licenses and excise taxes on hunting equipment and ammunition help to fund the purchase and conservation of millions of acres for wildlife.
With a few exceptions that vary by state, everyone who hunts must have the required state license(s). If you're hunting on a national wildlife refuge, some also require their own permits and/or user fees. Learn more about conserving and hunting antelope in each state:
- North Dakota Game and Fish: Species information| Hunting season | Hunt regulations
- Wyoming Game and Fish Department: Antelope hunting in Wyoming
- Idaho Department of Fish and Game: Pronghorn hunting
- Arizona Game and Fish: Species information
- Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks: Species information | Hunting guide
- Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife: Species information
- Nevada Department of Wildlife: Pronghorn hunting
- Texas Parks and Wildlife: Pronghorn hunting seasons
- New Mexico Game and Fish: Pronghorn Private Lands
- California Department of Fish and Wildlife: Species information
- Utah Division of Wildlife Resources: Big game hunting
- Pronghorn research project at the National Bison Range in Wyoming
- See where pronghorn migrate in Wyoming with the Wyoming Migration Initiative’s Migration data viewer
- National Geographic article: Did false cheetahs give pronghorn a need for speed?
- The National Wildlife Federation: Pronghorn Antelope