Line of pronghorn walking single-file through a snow covered field in Northern Great Plains, Montana.
Montana Pronghorn on Northern Great Plains. © Michael Forsberg

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On the Move: Interactive StoryMap on Imperiled Pronghorn Journey

A drama of migration and survival seasonally unfolds across the Northern Great Plains highlighting the importance of keeping landscapes connected.

Herds of pronghorn have roamed the North American West, without barriers or boundaries for millennia. Today, that ability to move between the places pronghorn need to feed, breed, and rear their young is being tested by changes in climate and human development. The Nature Conservancy has joined with the National Wildlife Federation to document a year in the life of a pronghorn doe with a media rich, interactive  StoryMap, On the Move, is the saga of these fleet animals facing the growing threats to their survival posed by roads, fences, railroads, and loss of habitat.

“It’s not too late to secure these ancient pathways. With the cooperation of landowners, scientists, agencies and conservation organizations. A future for these beautiful animals can be assured,” says Nature Conservancy Range Ecologist Kelsey Molloy.

Pronghorn migration relies on a long swath of open and connected habitat. But today, changes on the land are imperiling these ancient journeys. On the Move translates the eye-opening data provided by recent technology, to identify these challenges and offer ways to reduce them.

“The genesis of this project was that through their annual migration, pronghorn demonstrate how everything is acutely connected—people, water and wildlife—to the landscape” said Andrew Jakes, wildlife biologist for the National Wildlife Federation. “If we can grasp the vast scope of the pronghorns’ journey across the seasons—and the many challenges they face—then we can adapt and advance toward a holistic approach and promising frontier in wildlife conservation.”

Discover the journey: On the Move is a timely addition to a national conversation about landscape connectivity and the next frontier for the conservation community.

Find the StoryMap at nature.org/pronghornseasons.

Background

Sometimes described as “speed goats” or “prairie rockets,” due to their extraordinary speed, the pronghorn is a unique animal that roamed across the North American continent for millions of years. Besides being the second-fastest land animal on the planet—traveling at speeds of 60 miles per hour—pronghorn also have the second longest land migration route in the continental U.S. Like many other species of the Northern Great Plains, pronghorn were hunted to near extinction by the end of the 1800s. Today, the species numbers have revived, but the threats have also become more complex and far-reaching.

On the Northern Great Plains, pronghorn inhabit the ancestral land of the Anskani Pikuni (Blackfeet), Nakoda Oyadebi (Assiniboine), A'aninin (Gros Ventre), and Apsáalooke (Crow) Nations. In the mythology of Plains Indians, pronghorn often play the role of messengers. In some tribes, the appearance of a pronghorn in a human settlement had the meaning of a message from the spirit world. And even though the range of the pronghorn is greatly diminished, the animal continues to play a part in the ceremonial life of many Western Indigenous people, including the Pueblo and Hopi of the Southwest.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 75 countries and territories: 37 by direct conservation impact and 38 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.