We hope you had a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year! At Friends of Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, we are frankly relieved to bid goodbye to 2020 and turn the page to better days in 2021. With the new year comes new hope for the future and new opportunities to put your passion to work helping to conserve vital wildlife sanctuaries like Hart Mountain.
Friends of Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge
- Hart Mountain Planning for Bighorn Conservation
Bighorn Sheep numbers are in decline on Hart Mountain.The refuge is now exploring options for recovering and stabilizing its bighorn population in a new comprehensive management plan...
- Sage Grouse Population Holding Steady—at a Record Low
No other animal in North America can match the speed of the American pronghorn (Antilocapra Americana), which has been recorded at bursts of 55 mph. The Antilocapridae are a family of artiodactyls endemic to North America. Their closest extant relatives are the giraffids with which they comprise the superfamily Giraffoidea. Only one species of Antilocapridae, the pronghorn, is living today; all other members of the family are extinct. While it’s called an antelope, zoologically it is not closely related to the true antelope of the Old World.
The pronghorn’s natural range once extended from southern Canada to northern Mexico. Today, with more than 2,000 pronghorns, Oregon’s 422-square-mile Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge is just the place to lay eyes on abundant herds of these speedsters. Besides antelope, mule deer, California (desert) bighorn sheep, and the greater sage grouse are all iconic to the sagebrush steppe landscape that is popularly known as the “Sagebrush Sea.” The Hart-Sheldon refuge complex is home to 859 species of plants, 391 species of vertebrates, and 297 invertebrates....
Looking Forward to 2021 at Hart Mountain and Your Continued Support for Friends
With the promise of “normalcy” in 2021, Friends of Hart Mountain hopes to offer many important opportunities this year to educate and promote the refuge to a public increasingly interested in Oregon’s High Desert and the wildlife that depend on it. Post-pandemic, we look forward to sponsoring volunteer trips to census wildlife populations at the refuge, including mule deer surveys and sage grouse lek counts. And we will continue to encourage member participation in our work with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff on a variety of planning and management activities that help conserve this irreplaceable wildlife reserve.
Friends of Hart Mountain and the refuge we support have a bright future, but one that won’t be realized without the continued dedication and commitment of people like you! Please consider joining us in an exciting year ahead by becoming a Friends member or renewing your annual membership. Your generosity makes a difference to the wildlife and wildlands we all hold dear, and we thank you for your support.
Creature Feature: American Badger (Taxidae taxus)
Written by Eric Lucas
Stocky, low-slung, secretive and shy—sometimes even surly—the badger is among Hart Mountain’s most distinctive but least-seen denizens. “Badger hates Society, and invitations, and dinner, and all that sort of thing,” wrote Kenneth Grahame in The Wind in the Willows. In other words, they avoid attention: Be as circumspect as possible when you encounter this memorable creature.
One of the many animals whose name is also a verb, this 15- to 25-pound mustelid is in the same family as otters, weasels and its even more notoriously cranky cousin, the wolverine. Look for badgers on dry hillsides, such as along Blue Sky Road; though a badger’s coat generally sports the same earthy colors as the High Desert’s arid landscape, the white-and-black stripes on the snout are conspicuous. The thick fur is a popular component of paintbrushes. An individual’s home range runs as high as 2,000 acres.
While they generally feed on voles, ground squirrels, ground birds and such, they also often hunt rattlesnakes. Badgers have occasionally been observed hunting in tandem with coyotes, a fascinating example of inter-species cooperation. One of the few badger predators is the cougar, whose numbers have been growing at Hart Mountain. Though no accurate estimates exist, the badger’s inherent suitability for High Desert habitat means this is likely among the most common carnivores at Hart Mountain.