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Montana Animal Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Pronghorn - Antilocapra americana
Other Names:  Antelope

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Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5

Agency Status
USFWS:
USFS:
BLM:
FWP Conservation Tier: 3


 

External Links





 
General Description
Coat rich russet-tan with white underside; large white rump patch; two white bands across throat; black markings on head; eyes large, dark; dew claws absent; horns of adult bucks 13 to 16 inches long with prongs and curved tips; horn sheaths shed annually; about 70% of adult does have horns (averaging 1 1/2 inches long); adult bucks weigh 125 lbs., does 110 lbs. Adult bucks territorial from March through September; does and fawns in small herds drift on and off buck's territories in spring and summer; herds of bachelor bucks excluded from territories; all ages and both sexes congregate in winter herds; during severe winters, herds drift for long distances seeking food; barriers to such movements limit populations; excited animals emit explosive snorts, erect white rump patches, and emit musky odor from glands in rump patches. Upperparts are reddish brown to tan; underparts, lower sides, rump, and two bands on the neck are white; neck has a short black mane; male has a black band along each side of the snout, a black patch on each cheek, and sometimes black bands on the neck; males and most females have horns (larger and usually forked in males; sheaths are shed annually); two toes on each hoofed foot; head and body length 100 to 150 cm, tail 8 to 18 cm, mass 36 to 70 kg (Nowak 1991).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Shape of the horns and annual shedding of horn sheaths are unique among North American ungulates. Differs from the Bighorn Sheep in having white bands on the neck and slightly curved horns rather than strongly curved horns. Differs from deer in having white lower sides rather than lower sides the same basic color as the upper sides; also, deer lack conspicuous white bands on the neck.

General Distribution
Montana Range



Montana Distribution


Western Hemisphere Range

 


Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 3762

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density

Recency

 

(Records associated with a range of dates are excluded from time charts)



Migration
May migrate in response to severe weather or habitat conditions. Migration stops when conditions moderate.

Habitat
Open, rolling sagebrush and grasslands. Winter habitats less diverse than summer. Sagebrush-grassland preferred (Bayless 1967). Summers: mixed shrub, perennial grass- lands, silversage and annual forb types (Armstrup 1978). Also croplands (Wentland 1968). Prefer to corroborate with seasonal food habits.

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
  • Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
    How Associations Were Made
    We associated the use and habitat quality (high, medium, or low) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
    1. Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2001, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
    2. Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species’ range and habitat requirements;
    3. Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point database associated with each ecological system;
    4. Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of “observations versus availability of habitat”.
    Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.  In general, species were associated as using an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.  However, species were not associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system, even if point observations were associated with that system.  High, medium, and low habitat quality was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species in the literature.  The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignments of habitat quality.  If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact Bryce Maxell at bmaxell@mt.gov or (406) 444-3655.

    Suggested Uses and Limitations
    Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.  These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at: http://mtnhp.org/requests/default.asp) or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.  Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.  Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.  Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).  Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species’ known geographic range.

    Literature Cited
    • Adams, R.A.  2003.  Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation.  Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.  289 p.
    • Dobkin, D. S.  1992.  Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Publication No. R1-93-34.  Missoula, MT.
    • Foresman, K.R.  2001.  The wild mammals of Montana.  Special Publication No. 12.  Lawrence, KS: The American Society of Mammalogists.  278 p.
    • Hart, M.M., W.A. Williams, P.C. Thornton, K.P. McLaughlin, C.M. Tobalske, B.A. Maxell, D.P. Hendricks, C.R. Peterson, and R.L. Redmond. 1998.  Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates.  Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT.  1302 p.
    • Hutto, R.L. and J.S. Young.  1999.  Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32.  72 p.
    • Maxell, B.A.  2000.  Management of Montana’s amphibians: a review of factors that may present a risk to population viability and accounts on the identification, distribution, taxonomy, habitat use, natural history, and the status and conservation of individual species.  Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 1.  Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana.  161 p.
    • Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath.  2004.  Amphibians and reptiles of Montana.  Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 262 p.

Food Habits
Forbs in spring and summer; browse, especially sagebrush, in winter; small amounts of young grasses in spring and after fall rains. Presence of browse, particularly big sagebrush, is important limiting factor on northern ranges. Forbs important in summer, grasses usually minor all year (Wentland 1968, Bayless 1967).

Ecology
Populations extremely dynamic. Move south during severe winter weather. Fences can be a major obstacle. May be incompatible with sheep, compatible with cattle. Extensive cultivation over-simplifies, reduces habitat.

Reproductive Characteristics
Breed in late September; two grayish-brown fawns; bucks fight viciously and sometimes fatally; territorial bucks hold harems to breed; bucks shed horn sheaths in November; females usually breed when 1 1/2 years old, but may breed as fawns. Females first breed as yearlings. Produce young at 2 years; occasionally breed as fawns. Males first breed as yearlings. Frequency about 1.9 to 1.95 viable conceptus/doe. Parturition mid- to late May.

References
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View WorldCat Record   View Online Publication
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    • [PRESI] Powder River Eagle Studies Incorporated. 1998b. Spring Creek Mine 1997 wildlife monitoring studies. Powder River Eagle Studies Incorporated. Gillete, WY.
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    • Amstrup, S. C. and T. B. Segerstrom. 1981. Immobilizing free-ranging pronghorns with powdered succinylcholine chloride. J. Wild. Mgmt. 45(3):741-744.
    • Anonymous. 1946. Trapping and transplanting antelope. Montana Fish and Game Comm. 1945-46 Biennial Report.
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    • U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service., 1985, Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, Montana: Final Environmental Impact Statement.
    • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1980. Management of Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge. Draft. REPRINT
    • US. Dept. of Interior Geological Survey, 1977?, Draft environmental statement: Proposed 20-year plan of mining and reclamation, Westmoreland Resources Tract III, Crow Indian Ceded Area, Montana.
    • USDI National Park Service. 1964. Pronghorn (antelope) and habitat management plan for Yellowstone National Park, 1964-65. Yellowstone National Park, WY. 4 pp.
    • USDI National Park Service., 2000, Bison Management for the State of Montana and Yellowstone National Park. Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Interagency Bison Management Plan for the State of Montana and Yellowstone National Park. Vol. I. August 2000.
    • Von Gunten. 1978. Pronghorn fawn mortality on the National Bison Range. M.S. thesis. University of Montana, Missoula. 82 pp.
    • VTM Environmental Consultants, 1978?, Environmental Baseline Study. Spring Creek Project. Vol. 1.
    • VTN Colorado, Inc. Decker Coal Company., 1975, Draft environmental impact assessment for the proposed North Extension of the West Decker Mine.
    • VTN Environmental Sciences, Sheridan, Wyoming for Montana Dept. of State Lands, 1973, Environmental Analysis Decker Coal Company Mine, Decker, Montana.
    • Waage, Bruce C., 1987, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana: Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report, 1987 Field Season. December 1987.
    • Waage, Bruce C., 1988, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana: Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report, 1988 Field Season. December 1988.
    • Waage, Bruce C., 1989, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana: Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report, 1989 Field Season. December 1989.
    • Waage, Bruce C., 1991, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana: Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report, 1990 Field Season. September 1991.
    • Waage, Bruce C., 1992, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana: Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report, 1991 Field Season. December 1992.
    • Waage, Bruce C., 1993, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana: Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report; 1992 Field Season. December 1993.
    • Waage, Bruce C., 1993, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana: Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report; 1993 Field Season. April 1993.
    • Waage, Bruce C., 1995, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana:1994 Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report; December 1, 1993 - November 30, 1994. February 27, 1995.
    • Waage, Bruce C., 1996, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana: 1995 Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report; December 1, 1994 - November 30, 1995. February 28, 1996.
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    • Waage, Bruce C., 1999, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana: 1998 Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report; December 1, 1997 - November 30, 1998 Survey Period. February 24, 1999.
    • Waage, Bruce C., 2001, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana: 2000 Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report; December 1, 1999 - November 30, 2000. March 30, 2001.
    • Waage, Bruce C., 2002, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana. 2001 Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report; December 1, 2000 - November 30, 2001. Febr. 26, 2002.
    • Waage, Bruce C., compiler., 1984, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Rosebud County, Montana: Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report, 1983 Field Season. June 1984.
    • Waage, Bruce C., compiler., 1985, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Rosebud County, Montana: Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report, 1984 Field Season. October 1985.
    • Waage, Bruce C., compiler., 1986, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Rosebud County, Montana: Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report, 1985 Field Season. December 1986.
    • Waage, Bruce C., compiler., 1986, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Rosebud County, Montana: Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report, 1986 Field Season. December 1986.
    • Wentland, H.J. 1968. Summer range habits of the pronghorn antelope in central Montana with special reference to proposed sagebrush control study plots. M.S. thesis. Montana State University, Bozeman. 65 pp.
    • Westech Environmental Services, Inc., 2003, Wildlife monitoring: Absaloka Mine area, 2002. April 2003
    • Western Energy Co., Colstrip, MT. Unpub., 1983, Western Energy Company's Application for Amendment to Surface Mining Permit NO. 8003, Area B: sections 7, 8, 17,18 T1N R41E, sections 12, 13 T1N R40E, Mining Expansion. March 1983.
    • Western Energy Co., Colstrip, MT., 1980, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana: Annual Wildlife Report, 1980.
    • Western Energy Co., Colstrip, MT., 1981, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana: Annual Wildlife Report, 1981.
    • Western Energy Co., Colstrip, MT., 1981, Western Energy Company's Application for a Surface Mining Permit: Area C - Block 1. Vol. 1. May 1981.
    • Western Energy Co., Colstrip, MT., 1982, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana: Annual Wildlife Report, 1982.
    • Western Technology & Engineering, Inc. (WESTECH)., 1991, 1991 Bull Mountains Mine No. 1 Terrestrial Wildlife Monitoring Study. In Meridian Minerals Company Bull Mountains Mine No. 1 Permit Application, Musselshell County, Montana. Vol. 7 of 14: Section 26.4.304(10): Text. Appendix 304(10)-8. January 31, 1990.
    • Western Technology & Engineering, Inc., Helena, MT., 1995, Golden Sunlight Mines, Inc., Permit Amendment Terrestrial Wildlife Reconnaissance. Phase 2, Final Report. November 1995.
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    • Western Technology and Engineering, Inc. (WESTECH)., 1993, Wildlife Monitoring Asaloka Mine Area Annual Report, 1992. Montana SMP 85005 R1. OSMP Montana 00078. 1993.
    • Western Technology and Engineering, Inc., Helena, MT. For Hydrometrics, Inc., Helena, MT., 1985, Reconnaissance of terrestrial wildlife resources in the vicinity of the Willow Creek Mine, September, 1985. October 31, 1985. In Operating Permit Amendment Application and Reclamation Plan for Willow Creek Talc, Inc. Proposed Operation Near Alder, Madison County, Montana (Willow Creek Talc, Inc., Alder, MT.)
    • Westmoreland Resources, Inc., 1992, Mining and Reclamation Plan for Absaloka Mine. Book G. Wildlife. Vol. 2. Exhibit G-17. 1991 Wildlife Report. Wildlife monitoring and additional baseline inventory: Absaloka Mine Area (Western Technology and Engineering, Inc. [WESTECH], 1992).
    • Westmoreland Resources, Inc., Hardin, MT., 1983, 1983 Wildlife Monitoring.
    • Wood, A.K. 1989. Comparative distribution and habitat use by antelope and mule deer. Journal of Mammalogy 70(2):335-340.
    • Wright, P. L. and S. A. Dow, Jr. 1962. Minimum breeding age in pronghorn antelope. J. Wildlife Management 26(1):100-101.
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Pronghorn — Antilocapra americana.  Montana Field Guide.  Montana Natural Heritage Program and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.  Retrieved on September 1, 2014, from http://FieldGuide.mt.gov/detail_AMALD01010.aspx
 
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