Pronghorns relocated


GUNNISON, Colo. – The Colorado Division of Wildlife released 62 pronghorn in the Gunnison Basin on Feb. 26 to supplement the population in that area. The release area was about 20 miles southeast of the town of Gunnison.

The animals were trapped earlier in the day on private property in an area northeast of Pueblo where there are an abundance of pronghorn. Hunting is not allowed in that area and the number of pronghorn is over the population management objective set by the DOW. Relocating animals is an established wildlife management technique that is used nationwide.

“It was a win-win situation,” said Brian Dreher, terrestrial biologist with the DOW in the Colorado Springs area. “Gunnison needed some pronghorn to bolster their herds and this area near Pueblo had plenty to spare.”

In the Gunnison Basin, the animals were released south of U.S. Highway 50 and east of the Cochetopa Canyon.

Pronghorn are native to the Gunnison Basin, but they do suffer during periods of extreme weather. During the severe winter of 2007-08 more than half of the approximately 600 pronghorn in the basin died due to the weather conditions. The DOW estimates that prior to Friday’s relocation only about 300 pronghorn roamed the vast sage brush hills.

“The pronghorn really took a hit during the winter of 2008,” said J Wenum, area wildlife manager for the Gunnison area. “We’re happy to have more of them in the basin again.”

A previous transplant came after the severe winter of 1984. Pronghorn were trapped in the Trinidad area and relocated to supplement the few remaining animals that existed in the Gunnison Basin at the time.

The technique to trap the pronghorn at Pueblo has been used for many years by the DOW. Two fence lines about one-quarter mile long were built at angles to form a funnel shape. A low-flying helicopter herded the animals into the fenced area and then about 100 DOW biologists, staff and volunteers formed a line and walked slowly behind the animals and eventually pushed them into the small end of the enclosure.

At the narrowest point a net was dropped onto the animals. Then the people who had formed the line ran to hold the animals down. Blindfolds were quickly put over the animals’ eyes to help calm them and their legs were hobbled. DOW veterinarians were on hand to keep an eye on the animals. An ear tag was placed on each animal to help biologists track their movements in the basin. The hobbles and blindfolds were then removed and the pronghorn were placed on beds of hay in horse trailers and transferred to the release sites.

Pronghorn are small compared with other big game animals – about three feet tall at the shoulder and weigh from 85-165 pounds. They can run at speeds exceeding 60 miles per hour and are the fastest mammals in the Western Hemisphere.

The scientific name for pronghorn is Antilocapra americana.  The common names are: antelope, pronghorn antelope, and prairie goat. Pronghorn are small, graceful, hoofed mammals with a large head and prominent, laterally positioned eyes.  Keen eye sight and speed are their primary defense mechanisms. Just a few hours after being born a pronghorn can run up to 30 miles per hour.

Pronghorn generally live in grasslands and semi-desert shrub lands on rolling topography that affords good visibility. In spring and summer, the older, more dominant bucks are solitary and the younger males form bachelor bands of up to 12 individuals. The females – known as does – with young form small herds.  In the winter, there are large herds of mixed sex and age classes.

Breeding occurs in the fall, from mid-September to mid-October. Males are territorial during the autumn rut; and while they threaten combat, there is little actual contact. Dominant males round up groups of females.  Gestation averages 252 days. The young are born from late-May to mid-June. On average, each doe gives birth to two young. In the wild, pronghorn have a typical lifespan of 7-10 years.

Males shed the outer sheath of their horns after breeding. The resulting new growth each year produces a steadily larger set of horns. No other North American mammals have branched horns over a bone core.

For more information about pronghorn, go to the DOW’s web site at:

PHOTO: Copy and paste photo from this URL. Caption is below.

Two pronghorn walk into their new home in the Gunnison Basin. The animals were trapped on Feb. 26 east of Pueblo and then taken to the Gunnison area the same day to be released. A total of 62 pronghorn were relocated in an effort to increase the population of pronghorn in the Gunnison Basin. Half of the 600 animals in the basin died during the severe winter of 2007-08. Photo: Colorado Division of Wildlife.

For more information about Division of Wildlife go to:

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