Description: Pronghorn antelope are only found
in North America. They are often referred to as "antelope," however, they are
not closely related to any African antelope species. The scientific name
originates from Antilo=antelope and capra=goat, thus
antelope-goat. There are five subspecies of pronghorn, three of which occur in
Arizona. They are the American pronghorn (A. a. americana), Sonoran
pronghorn (A. a. sonoriensis), and Chihuahuan pronghorn (A. a.
Habitat: Open grass and forest parks.
Grasses, weeds, cacti, juniper, winterfat, and chamiso. Pronghorn are selective, opportunistic foragers. They feed on forbs, shrubs, grasses, and sometimes cacti and domestic crops. Forbs make up the largest part of their diet, followed by shrubs, then grasses. Forbs are typically eaten from spring to late fall and are critical to good fawn production. Shrubs are eaten all year, but are most important in winter when forbs are not readily available. Grasses, though relatively unimportant, are eaten when young and succulent. Other food types vary locally in importance. Recently disturbed ground, such as burned areas, are often good foraging sites because they can provide an abundance of new plant growth.
Pronghorn are chiefly diurnal, most active in
mornings and evenings, but may be seen moving at any time. Pronghorn are
nomadic with seasonal movements often occurring over large areas. Movements are
often dependent upon the quality and quantity of habitat and vary widely among
individuals. Pronghorn tend to winter in large herds, with animals of both
sexes feeding and bedding close together. However, in mild winters bucks and
does may remain separated. During spring, pregnant does isolate themselves to
give birth. By late-spring, doe-fawn groups have formed. Bachelor herds of
young, non-territorial bucks are also common. Mature bucks are solitary at this
time, often defending a territory or harem of does. The most aggressive bucks
do most of the breeding.
Breeding notes: Normal breeding period is August - September, average number of young - 2.
Predators or Enemies:
Coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, golden eagles, and wild dogs prey on pronghorn. Coyotes are the primary predator of fawns in Arizona. Pronghorn losses due to predation vary with pronghorn and predator numbers, habitat type, and availability of alternative food sources for predators. Speed and exceptional eyesight are the pronghorn's best protection from predators. A fawn's best defense from predators is to choose good bedsite cover and to lie motionless.
Size Individual Range: 20-40 square miles
1,000-8,000 feet in the grasslands of northern and southern
Arizona. Pronghorn are less widely distributed today than in the mid-1800's
when numbers probably reached the tens of millions. Under pristine conditions,
pronghorn ranged west of the Mississippi River from southwestern Canada through
the Rocky Mountain region south to central Mexico. By the 1920's, pronghorn
numbers reached a low of about 30,000 with only about 650 in Arizona. Possible
factors leading to the drastic decline in pronghorn may have been subsistence
and market hunting, and disease introduced by livestock.
Live Weight: Male - 110 lbs.; Female - 75 lbs.
Hunting hints: It's best to scout prior to hunting season. Use binoculars to glass a large area from a high point.
Information & photo courtesy Arizona Game & Fish Department, Region 1-Pinetop,AZ& Amber Alexander (Game Branch)/Richard A. Ockenfels (Research Branch) Wildlife Management Division-Arizona Game & Fish Department.