Wildlife Management - In Sickness and in Health

Photograph of the cover of A.P. Chambers’ Field Diary
A.P. Chambers’ Field Diary

NPS Photo

What is Killing the Pronghorn?

Eventually, Chambers realized that the problem was not totally predators. Part of the problem was understanding the pronghorn. In 1918 Chambers stated:

I put 8 head into the small pasture where I could have them under my sight. Three or four developed swellings on the jaws. I had read that this (actinomycosis) was a fatal disease. We have lost many antelope that have never been accounted for and it is more than probable that some of these were victims of this disease.

Pronghorn are the fastest North American land mammal and need space to escape predators. In 1926, Chambers summarized: The propagation of the antelope (pronghorn) is difficult. The only way this can be accomplished is by setting aside large tracts of land, left as natural as possible. The antelope will not thrive in confinement. Chambers died 2 years later of actinomycosis, which he caught from the animals he had worked so hard to save.

A New Approach

In 1935, when the game preserve became part of Wind Cave National Park, the Civilian Conservation Corps tore down the interior fences creating a larger range for all the animals. The Custer Recreational Demonstration land was acquired in the 1940’s and by 1964 the park had grown to more than 28,000 acres with a population of 300 pronghorn.

Family of 5 Pronghorn on the prairie
Pronghorn Family on Prairie

NPS Photo


Last updated: December 11, 2018

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