Weather-withered pronghorn in struggle to survive

Snow conditions force local antelope herds off traditional grazing areas, into town in search of food


February 28, 2019

Grace Moore

Deep, crusty snow south of Moorcroft forced a pronghorn herd into town last Friday in search of forage.

The recent severe winter conditions in northeast Wyoming are impacting area antelope herds and Moorcroft Game Warden John Davis is asking for the public's assistance in reducing disturbance to the animals.

"Due to weather stress and crusted snow, antelope are coming into town seeking forage," said Davis. "It has just been tough on them. We've had snow cover since before Christmas and at times, it has warmed up a bit creating crust on the snow and ice on bare ground."

Davis notes that in addition to coming into Moorcroft, small numbers of antelope are congregating along some area roadways. He encourages drivers to slow down and give the animals plenty of time to move away if they encounter them, noting that in their weakened condition they seem to have little ability to respond quickly when trying to avoid vehicles.

"I've never had them in town like they are," Davis said. "Please give them plenty of space and don't allow pets to chase them. They are very weak and it is important not to stress them anymore than they already are."

Now through late spring is a critical time for wildlife. Food is scarce and what is available is low quality. They are relying on fat reserves they accumulated during the good summer and fall months to get through the winter.

However, when they are disturbed enough to make an effort to get away from people or pets, they can use up these stored fat reserves. This may make it difficult for them to survive until spring green up when they can begin to regain their body condition with quality forage.


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