Pronghorn Antelope

Once as numerous as the park’s bison, the pronghorn antelope bounds effortlessly across Yellowstone’s landscape and is most frequently seen grazing near the park’s north entrance. The only animal to feature forked horns, the pronghorn is actually not an antelope at all. Due to the descriptions of Lewis and Clark who likened the pronghorn to the Antilope of South Africa, the pronghorn was soon inaccurately being called an antelope. In reality, the animal belongs to its own class of species that has occupied and evolved on the North American continent for more than twenty million years.

Featuring black stripes, tan bodies with white bellies and rumps, black horns, and protruding eyes, the pronghorn outwits its predators with speed. Large windpipes, giant lungs, an oversized heart, and an extraordinary volume of blood enable the pronghorn to speed away at forty-five to fifty miles per hour. The animals’ petite body size, with males weighing a maximum of 125 pounds and females a slight 100 pounds, further heightens their speed. 

Often traveling in herds, the pronghorns mate in the fall, band together in male/female herds for the winter, and then separate into same-sex herds each spring. Offspring, weighing a maximum of nine pounds at birth, are born in late May or early June. Although these fawns are needed to ensure the eventual survival of the species, they also pose an inherent risk to the herd. Young pronghorns are not capable of moving as quickly as the adults, and they often become an easy target for larger predators.

Researchers currently believe that this camera-shy species only numbers a mere 250 within Yellowstone’s boundaries.

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