Pronghorns can be active during the day or night. They live in herds of up to 1,000 individuals. In fall and winter, herds are largest and consist of all ages and both sexes. During spring and summer, herds shrink and are segregated into males and females. In the breeding season, a male gathers a harem of several females. Every year, the pronghorns’ social groups may change depending on the availability of food and the density of their populations. Herds migrate up to 100 miles seasonally.
Since they live in open terrain, pronghorns have large, protruding eyes to spot moving predators and a top speed of 54 miles per hour to avoid them. Some pronghorns have been known to race beside cars along highways! Pronghorns signal each other to danger by flaring out the white hairs on their rump.
The pronghorn eats a variety of plants, including grasses, shrubs, and cacti. In winter, it uses its front feet to dig for food buried beneath the snow. The pronghorn usually obtains its water from plants, but also drinks when a source is available.
Pronghorns mate over a three-week period between July and October. Females give birth in the spring, to one or two fawns. By the time it is four days old, a fawn can outrun a human. It stays with its mother until it is about a year old, and reaches maturity at 16 months. Pronghorns in zoos can live for 12 years.
Some of My Neighbors
Coyotes, golden eagles, wolves, bison, beavers, bobcats, bears, weasels, ferrets, badgers, foxes, prairie dogs, jackrabbits, elk, mule deer, red-tailed hawks
Population Status & Threats
Before European explorers arrived in the American West, it is estimated that pronghorn numbered 35 million. Hunting and habitat loss reduced the pronghorn population to around 20,000 by the 1920s. Conservation efforts, which include limiting hunting, have increased pronghorn numbers, but the animals are threatened by certain changes in the landscape, such as livestock fences, which block natural migratory routes.
WCS Conservation Efforts
The WCS Corridor Conservation Initiative was designed to help pronghorns and other animals that migrate as part of their yearly cycle. Through research, outreach, and land protection, the initiative has taken action to preserve links between habitats in the face of growing human development. WCS has conducted research in western Wyoming to evaluate the effects of gas field exploration and development on pronghorn. In Grand Teton National Park, WCS researchers are studying the interaction of pronghorns with wolves, coyotes, and people.
Learn more about WCS efforts to preserve the path of the pronghorn.