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Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) Fact Sheet: Population & Conservation Status

Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana)

Population Status

Population estimates

  • About one million individuals (IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group 2016 citing O'Gara 1999, Byers 2011)
    • 750,000 mature individuals
  • Stable, except in Mexico, where declining (Byers 2011; IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group 2016)
  • Fewer than 300 Sonoran Pronghorn in the U.S. and 200-500 individuals in Sonora, Mexico (IUCN 2008; Byers 2011)
    • Populations of Sonoran Pronghorn in Arizona and Mexico protected since 1967 under US Endangered Species Act.
    • In 1998 US Fish and Wildlife Service developed a recovery plan for Sonoran Pronghorn.

Population changes through history

  • At one time there were thought to be 35 million or more pronghorns in their original range. During the latter half of the 19th century, numbers were reduced by 99% due to hunting and loss of habitat to agriculture, settlement, and fencing tracts of land, falling to 13,000 by 1915
  • Conservation practices ended the decline in the early 20th century. From 1915 to 1925, the population increased to 30,500
  • The population continued to increase into the 1980s, reaching more than 1 million in 1984, the highest number in the 20th century
  • By 1997, the population had decreased again by about one-third
  • In 2000, population estimates were 32,000 for Canada, 1,200 for Mexico, and 765,200 for the United States, a combined total of 799,200
  • The Mexican subspecies (mexicana, peninsularis, and sonoriensis) experienced a continual decline of more than 80% throughout the 20th century

Conservation Status

(IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group 2016)

IUCN Status

  • Least Concern (2016 assessment) (IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group 2016)
    • 2008: Least Concern
    • 1996: Lower Risk/least concern

CITES Status

  • Only the population of Mexico is included in Appendix (UNEP 2019)
    • No other population included in the CITES Appendices

U.S. Endangered Species Act

  • Two subspecies (Sonoran and Baja Califronia pronghorn) are listed as Endangered by the USFWS.
    • Populations of the Sonoran Pronghorn in Arizona and Mexico have been protected since 1967
  • Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Pronghorns have game-animal status in all of the western states of the United States, and permits are required to trap or shoot pronghorns.

Threats to Survival

  • No major range-wide threats (historicaly, loss of habitat and overhunting)
  • Barriers to movements: roads, fences, etc.
  • Malnutrition and lack of water
  • Removal of native vegetation by rangeland projects
  • Illegal hunting, mainly in Mexico

Conservation Success Story

Pronghorn herd

Pronghorn have made a remarkable recovery since their populations were reduced by 99% in the latter part of the 19th century.

Today, their numbers are stable, except possibly in Mexico and other areas where illegal hunting poses a threat to certain populations.

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.

Pronghorn Recovery Project

Discover how San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance is working to protect endangered Peninsular Pronghorn.

© San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.

Page Citations

O’Gara & Yoakum (2004)

SDZWA Library Links