U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A herd of pronghorn antelope lay closely together in grass. The animals are so close to one another that the image appears to have double-vision, with the animals overlapping one another in an optical illusion

Pronghorn Antelope

(Antilocapra americana)

Information icon A group of pronghorn in winter at Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Tom Koerner, USFWS.

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Taxon: Ungulate

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.

A brown and white pronghorn buck, standing in vibrant, tall, lush green grassland, stares off to the right of the camera
A pronghorn buck stands in sagebrush at Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Tom Koerner, USFWS.

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Appearance

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.

A full-face picture of a pronghorn antelope, with soft brown coloring and grey antlers. The background is a blurred green backdrop. The detail of the image clearly shows the animals eyelashes
The face of a pronghorn. Photo by Tom Koerner, USFWS.

Habitat

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.


Diet

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.

A herd of four pronghorn antelope seem to be quickly crossing a two-lane highway road, all four animals are mid-trot in the center of the road
Pronghorn crossing highway 372 in Wyoming. Photo by Tom Koerner, USFWS.

Find Pronghorn on National Wildlife Refuges


Information and Hunting Regulations by State

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:

A pronghorn buck stands alone in a sea of light-brown grasses, abutted next to lush green sagebrush
A pronghorn buck at Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Tom Koerner, USFWS.

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