Fawning Over Wyoming’s Pronghorns

Contributing Blogger Cathy Healy got the scoop from naturalist writer and artist Emilene Oslind on when, where, and how to watch pronghorn antelope in Wyoming this June.

LARAMIE, Wyo. — Pronghorn fawns will make you laugh, promises Emilene Ostlind, a former natural history photography coordinator for National Geographic magazine. “Fawns have these little snub noses and a funny poof of white hair on their butts that stands up when they get excited. Most does have twins and they’re full of energy. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see two fawns jump up from behind a sagebrush, drink some milk from their mother and run around, playing and chasing each other.”

You can easily find pronghorn in Wyoming if you get off the interstates and onto Bureau of Land Management roads. The state has about half of the million pronghorn in the world, all of which live on North America’s western plains. (Map).

While you won’t need a four-wheel drive, you will need binoculars or a scope to observe the skittish animals, says Ostlind. Pronghorn are the fastest creatures in North America–they can run away from you at 53 mph. Not only that, but antelope have 270-degree eyesight and can spot movement from two to three miles away. Your advantage is that pronghorn are curious, so they might come closer if you’re in your car and not on foot. Or, if you’re watching from a hilltop a couple of miles away.

Ostlind, a Wyoming native, returned home last year from the Himalayas, where she was tracking snow leopards as a field assistant for wildlife photographer Steve Winter while on assignment with National Geographic. For her master’s project in creative non-fiction, Ostlind is documenting the pronghorn migration from summer in the Tetons to their winter range in the Red Desert with photographer partner, Joe Riis, a National Geographic Emerging Explorer and grantee. Riis and Ostlind are documenting their trip over at the Pronghorn Passage blog.

Want to see the fawns for yourself? For fawn-watching in the Tetons, Emilene recommends Antelope Flats. For migration-watching in October, go to the “staging grounds” at the Kelly Hayfields in Teton Park where the herds group up before they start their fall migration. In November, look for pronghorn further to the south in their winter range, near the energy boomtown of Pinedale, along the road to the town of Green River.

Read More: National Geographic has taken an interest in the endangered, 6,000-year-old migration, the second longest (after caribou) in the Western Hemisphere. For a clear picture of the animal/human challenges—and to delight in the sight of an ancient ritual—watch NG’s video featuring Riis, along with Adventure Magazine Hall of Famer and writer Rick Ridgeway, and biologist Hall Sawyer.

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