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Are Horn Characteristics Related to Age in Male Pronghorns?

Carl D. Mitchell and Christine R. Maher
Wildlife Society Bulletin (1973-2006)
Vol. 29, No. 3 (Autumn, 2001), pp. 908-916
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3784418
Page Count: 9
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Are Horn Characteristics Related to Age in Male Pronghorns?
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Abstract

Wildlife managers often use horn characteristics to assess and manage populations indirectly; however, only one published study has examined relationships between horn characteristics and age in pronghorns (Antilocapra americana). We compared ages and horn measurements (i.e., length, base, widest spread, and symmetry) for 85 pronghorns shot by hunters from 1995 to 1997 on Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, Montana. Horn length and base circumference were related nonlinearly with age in 1995-1997 and in 1995-1996, respectively. Asymmetry of horn length was related to age in 1995 and 1996 and older males had more symmetrical horns. However, asymmetry in circumference was related to age in 1997 such that older males had less symmetrical horns. We observed no significant relationships between asymmetry and other horn traits. Pronghorns attained adult-sized horns at 2 or 3 years old, and the largest horn measurements also came from 2- and 3-year-old males. If other populations show similar patterns, then managers can manipulate pronghorn populations for a younger age structure and still provide for maximum yield or trophy hunting.

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