Rumours of an antelope in the Oakburn area last month were confirmed, when Kendra Sitko took several photos of the animal, and Chris Hrysak of the Shoal Lake branch of Sustainable Development added to the confirmation.
“Being a Plains animal, it’s extremely rare to see an antelope in our neck of the woods,” he said. “It’s definitely a strange one, how it reached the area, as they don’t swim across rivers or any other water course, for that matter.”
Hrysak said in early May, there were reports of two in the Rivers/Oak Lake area, and it seems the one near Oakburn has followed Highway 21. Should this lone antelope turn around and head back in a southwesterly direction, it should survive. However, upon reaching the Patterson Lake area north of Oakburn or the dense bush of Riding Mountain National Park, it will have a tough time surviving, said Hrysak.
Antelope thrive best on rangelands with a diversity of vegetation, an abundance of grass, forbs and browse plants with high succulence, and growth height from 12 to 24 inches. Cultivated crops usually are not consumed extensively except alfalfa, which is highly preferred.
“With the animal being somewhat on the tame side, with people known to get as close as 20 yards on an open prairie field, it’s a possibility someone has been in contact with the antelope, and brought it into the region in a cattle trailer,” Hrysak said.
Across the border into Saskatchewan, antelope are known to be part of the wildlife scene from Regina in the south to Saskatoon in the north. Although a variety of species, including mule deer, pass through this region of Manitoba, an antelope is an unusual one.
Since the report of an antelope in the Oakburn area, another has been spotted in the Decker area, south of Shoal Lake.
These two animals may be the original two spotted in the Westman region of the province back in May, or perhaps, the number is higher than two wandering the western part of Manitoba.