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Pronghorn: Antilocapridae - Habitat

colorado population sixty shrubs

Pronghorn can be found in abundant numbers in short-grass prairies where shrubs are readily available even with snow cover. Steppes (vegetation zones characterized by shrubs, grasses, and few trees) are also popular habitats, and deserts are home to less than 1 percent of the population.

Pronghorn are usually found on treeless, flat terrain between altitudes of 3,000 to 8,000 feet (914 to 2,438 meters).


According to NationalGeographic.com, one of the earliest mentions of the pronghorn is in the expedition diaries of explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. As often happens today, they compared the pronghorn to goats, antelopes, and gazelles.

The pronghorn population has taken a rollercoaster ride in terms of numbers. From an estimated thirty to sixty million in the early 1800s, they declined to less than 15,000 by 1915. As of 2004, there are an estimated one million on the plains of North America.

According to Colorado Division of Wildlife biologist Mark Vieira, the number of pronghorn in that state fell to around 2,000 at the end of the twentieth century but has grown to a steady 55,000 as of 2004. He explained to Rocky Mountain News reporter Gary Gerhardt that pronghorn thrive in this region because they don't compete with cattle. The two animals eat different plants, so all have enough to eat.

Winter months have proven particularly harsh for the Colorado pronghorn population on the Pawnee National Grasslands, however. During the winter, the animals create herds of about 100 individuals. Because Colorado has suffered serious drought in the twenty-first century, there isn't enough food to go around. Vieira reported, "Our usual fawn production was fifty to sixty fawns per one hundred does. Now it's fallen to eighteen per one hundred." In addition to starvation, the lack of vegetation is prohibiting pronghorn from manufacturing antibodies necessary for warding off disease.

"We are really desperate for moisture now. If we could get two good years, we could bring the population back," Viera said. Most pronghorn live in Montana and Wyoming.

Pronghorn: Antilocapridae - Diet [next] [back] Pronghorn: Antilocapridae - Physical Characteristics

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