Back from the Brink
The Sonoran pronghorn is edgy. It’s skittish and shy. It’ll sprint away at the sound of a car passing two miles away. If you’ve seen one, you’re pretty lucky. The Sonoran pronghorn is tinier than its more extroverted grassland sibling, the American pronghorn. This desert subspecies can freeze, invisible in the patchwork of cactus and rock. Fear is their survival strategy. It steers them away from highways, automobiles, and noisy humans. It makes them fast. It keeps them wary. You’d be wary too if you lived between two nations where drought leaves you wanting and mountain lions keep you sharp.
Long before modern human inhabitation of the Sonoran Desert, the pronghorn travelled seasonally in and out of food-rich areas. Their range was far-reaching, stretching from the Colorado River Valley south into Mexico and east to nearly Tucson. No speeding highways, low flying aircraft, nor ranch fencing limited their movement. If times were hard, they could- warily, carefully, fearfully- move hundreds of miles to find water and better pasture. Times have changed though. Ribbons of blacktop ushered in people and, with them, came development. The shy pronghorn’s habitat shrunk. Mexican Highway 2 and border fences divided the population in two. The majority of the pronghorn roamed in the area east of Rocky Point. The rest stayed in the US, bounded by US Interstate 8 to the north.