Protecting The “Path Of The Pronghorn” In Wyoming
Pronghorn is the fastest land animal in North America.
Photo by Mark Gocke/www.markgocke.com
At A Glance
- The pronghorn is the fastest land animal in North America with a top running speed of about 55 miles per hour—only the cheetah is faster.
- The pronghorn's annual migration is one of the longest—and now toughest—thanks to development.
- Our work saving ranch land helps keep the pronghorn's migration route open.
Out West, few animals are as famous as the pronghorn antelope. First celebrated by explorers Lewis and Clark, the pronghorn is graceful and swift, with a top running speed of about 55 miles per hour—surpassed on land only by the cheetah. And this western icon is a marathoner, making an annual migration that is one of the longest—and now toughest—ever.
In Wyoming, as winter sets in, the watched-for herd sets out from the state’s northwest corner, headed south along the “Path of the Pronghorn”: a 150-mile route that will take them from the area around Grand Teton National Park to their winter haven in the Upper Green River Valley.
But this journey grows tougher all the time.
This is the longest land migration in the lower 48 states and in 2008 it became the first designated wildlife migration corridor in the nation. However, not all of land along the route is publicly owned. In addition to scaling heights and crossing water, pronghorn today must cross subdivisions and highways as well as private ranchland.
Bottlenecks Along The Path Of The Pronghorn
Perhaps most challenging, the herd must navigate three major bottlenecks—areas where natural terrain changes and development squeeze the pronghorn’s route, narrowing the passable land.
The Fund has protected one of those three bottlenecks to prevent it from narrowing even further. The 2,400-acre swath of land is on the Carney Ranch and is the only bottleneck occurring on private lands—and the most vulnerable.
Working with a dedicated group of partners, we helped the Carney family purchase a conservation agreement for their property, so they can both protect the bottleneck and continue ranching as they have for nearly 50 years. “The Carney Ranch and the entire Upper Green River Valley boast some of the highest quality habitat and open space in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The Carney family made a significant donation to make this possible; we applaud the three generations of family members for their major commitment to conservation,” said Luke Lynch, Wyoming state director for the Fund.