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Utah Field Guide - Pronghorn

Posted - May 7, 2012 at 11:20 a.m.



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Although sometimes called antelope, pronghorn are not closely related to the animals of the African plains. In fact, they are so different from other hoofed animals that they are the only members of the family Antelocapridae. Pronghorn have branched, hollow, hair-like horns that are shed annually. They are the only animal with this combination.

True Americans, pronghorn are found only on the plains and grasslands of North America. Like the bison, seemingly endless numbers once covered the west, stretching from Saskatchewan to just north of Mexico City. And like bison, they nearly became extinct. Populations declined from an estimated 30-60 million in the early 1800's to less than 15,000 by 1915. A moratorium on hunting lasting until the 1940's and a federal tax on firearms and sporting goods funding conservation efforts are credited with stopping the decline. Today there are almost 1 million pronghorn.

Pronghorn need open, flat valleys to make us of their most famous attributes, speed and eyesight. Vegetation must not exceed 30 inches so approaching predators are visible. With eyes almost as large as and elephant's on a body the size of a goat, pronghorn are clearly designed for watchfulness. For more info on the pronghorn or any other critter found in Utah, check out our Utah Field Guide on KSLTV.com

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