Robbie Schmaltz couldn't believe her eyes when she cruised to the top of a snowy Saskatchewan highway hill and saw a collection of bobbing white behinds — a herd of pronghorn — sprinting ahead of her vehicle.
"It was surreal. It was nothing I've ever seen before," she said. "I'm like whoa. Like this is, this is crazy."
Schmaltz lives in Fox Valley and was headed home eastbound along Highway 371 on her way back from Medicine Hat, Alta., on Thursday night.
Schmaltz honked to no avail, but they wouldn't move so she backed off and called her husband using Bluetooth.
"I'm like, 'how do I get these things off the road?' And he said, 'You don't.'"
She said it seemed like she followed the fast animals forever.
"They were going about 60 [km/h]," she said. "I slowed down then because I thought, well, these poor deer or antelope they're going to get worn out and I don't want to hurt them, especially now when it's so cold, they can't get food."
Pronghorn thrive in grassland areas and have evolved to have extreme speed and sharp eyesight. They are the second fastest land mammal in the world, behind only the cheetah, according to Saskatchewan's Management Plan for Pronghorn.
Finally another vehicle travelling in the opposite direction approached the animals and the herd found a place to veer off the road. Schmaltz took a video of the encounter with the pronghorn herd and posted it to Facebook. It soon went viral, with some watchers joking that the animals were only running away because of her music taste (she was playing the Backstreet Boys).
Jokes aside, roadways can offer an easy corridor that helps the pronghorn save its energy instead of navigating heavily snowed fields and ditches, according to Saskatchewan's Ministry of Environment. Large herds may "move along roadways for long distances until they are able to find an area where they can cross underneath the fence line and/or the fence line ends," according to a Ministry spokesperson.
Drivers who encounter similar situations should drive slowly and look for alternative routes if the herd doesn't vacate the road, the spokesperson said in an email. The animals will travel along the roadway until there are no longer barriers preventing their movement off the roadway.