Posted by: atowhee | June 19, 2012

A UNIQUE AND SPEEDY NEIGHBOR


We saw numerous small groups of Pronghorn in the Malheur area and en route. Often there were fawns with the females as in the picture above.
The Pronghorn is in its own taxonomic family with no near relatives in the world. The animal’s horns shed their outer layer each year but the bone inside remains, making the headgear unique in the natural world. Pronghorn have been timed at speeds up to 55 MPH and regularly run at 45 MPH. They are the fastest land animal in America and one theory is that they evolved their speed to evade cheetahs before that cat went extinct in North America.
The Pronghorn was first discovered for science by the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1803-5) as the animals did not live on either Atlantic or Pacific Coast where most previous exploration had taken place.
One of the greatest enemies of the Pronghorn was fencing. They are fast, but not great jumpers so fences curtailed their movement and hunters helped decimate their population. Now in many parts of the West lower wires on the fences are removed allowing the agile Pronghorn to slip under what it can’t jump over. The Pronghorn is about 40 inches tall at the shoulder, about the same hieght as the Mule Deer seen all over Oregon. The larger males can weigh over 120 pounds but the animal is clearly evolved for speed and can accelerate like a race csr, going from alert to a full run in an instant.
Here’s my blog on Malheur’s Owls.


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