Pronghorn: Icon of Wyoming

Perfectly adapted to the sage brush steppe, Pronghorn, Antilocapra americana, is an iconic wildlife species of Wyoming. Visitors are often surprised when they see pronghorn, saying they “look like something from Africa.”

Pronghorn are the second fastest land mammal on the planet, able to reach speeds exceeding 50 mph. Sagebrush is a staple of their winter diets, but they also consume grasses and forbs when they are green and nutritious.DSC_0020

The pronghorn’s horns are horns indeed. The outer part of the horn is a modified complex of hair, with an inner, permanent bony structure. Only the outer portion is shed. Both males and females have horns, but the female’s are smaller and not easily seen from a distance, which is the most likely way you will view these wary animals in their natural habitat.

Generally, pronghorn do not jump fences like deer and elk. They prefer to go under fences. For this reason “sheep tight” fence, or woven wire fence, is a problem for pronghorn on the move. Pronghorn caught on a highway bounded by woven wire fence can become confused and run back and forth along the right of way trying to escape traffic. Fences made with three or four strands of wire, the bottom strand without barbs and 16 inches above the ground provide for safe movement of pronghorn antelope.

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