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Bison

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Winter’s bison calf begins to change

Being born in the dead of winter on the Colorado plains does not make for an easy start to life. However, this little guy (or gal) looks to have done just fine.

I first captured images of it back in the middle of December within a couple of days after it was born just before a snowstorm hit. Now, four months later, we can see some changes taking place as it grows up.

It of course has grown considerably but also, it’s ‘red dog’ fur is changing to the adult brown, it is developing the shoulder hump and its horns are growing.

Bison are the largest mammal in North American with cows weighing up to 1,000 pounds and bulls up to 2,000 pounds. Whether a male or female, this little one will be massive once it grows up.

A Bison calf walks through the grass with its mother. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bison calf walks through the grass with its mother. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bison backed up by fire

This was a bit disconcerting to watch but it was all a very controlled event. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was conducting a prescribed burn at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge last week. While the Bison were close to the flames and seemed a bit upset by it, wildlife officials were right there monitoring the situation.

Fire is a very normal event and indeed, blazes are a necessary part of maintaining a healthy ecosystem, however they obviously can’t be allowed to occur unabated in areas near population centers. When we can’t let Mother Nature do it, man must step in and conduct them in a well-organized and planned fashion.

Such was the case here. The fires were purposefully set and closely monitored by firefighters. While the landscape is temporarily blackened, soon, fresh, new growth will return stronger than ever.

Five Bison bulls find themselves walking alongside the fires of a prescribed burn at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. (© Tony’s Takes)

Five Bison bulls find themselves walking alongside the fires of a prescribed burn at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. (© Tony’s Takes)

Ladies on the move – clear the way!

One for Tatanka Tuesday. The females and young ones in the Bison herd were switching grazing areas Sunday and if you were in their way, you better get ready to move. Well, no, not really since you have to stay in your car and they will just go around but they are kind of intimidating when they are coming toward you.

It used to be we called these buffalo but that actually was incorrect. While they are part of the same family that includes the European and African buffalo, the Bison is its own, distinct species. It is believed they were called buffalo by early North American explorers due to their resemblance to the Old-World species. Native Americans call them Tatanka, a Lakota word that translated means “bull buffalo.”

Bison cows work their way from one grazing area to another at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bison cows work their way from one grazing area to another at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. (© Tony’s Takes)

What have you done to my home?

A Bison looks to the horizon and sees the results of man’s progress. Flipping through some images and I came across this one which I haven’t shared. As I came to it, it kind of struck me as one which is a bit powerful.

These massive animals were hunted to the brink of extinction in the 1700s and 1800s with as few as 750 reported by 1890. The American Bison’s numbers have since rebounded with about 500,000 now living on public and private lands but none have truly free range anymore. The land they used to roam freely has been overtaken by man and, for better and worse, the landscape has changed greatly since this bull’s ancestors roamed the land.

At least now we seem to have awoken to some of the damage done in decades and centuries past and are trying to rectify it by working to restore these impressive animal’s population and giving them some of their ancestral lands back.

In May 2016 the Bison became the official mammal of the United States, a fitting and long overdue honor.

A Bison bull looks toward Denver, seemingly saddened by the progress. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bison bull looks toward Denver, seemingly saddened by the progress. (© Tony’s Takes)

Tatanka close-up in black and white

There is just something about pictures of the American Bison that lends itself very well to monochrome treatment. I reckon it is as much as anything because we view it as a creature of the Old West.

It came close to disappearing back then due to over hunting but, thankfully, conservation efforts prevailed and now there are many of these scattered across the western United States in private and public herds. It used to be we called these buffalo but that actually was incorrect. While they are part of the same family that includes the European and African buffalo, the Bison is its own, distinct species.

It is believed they were called buffalo by early North American explorers due to their resemblance to the Old-World species. Native Americans call them Tatanka, a Lakota word that translated means “bull buffalo.” In May 2016 the Bison became the official mammal of the United States, a fitting and long overdue honor.

Black and white image of a Bison bull. (© Tony’s Takes)

Black and white image of a Bison bull. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bison calf sticks close to mom

A late arrival at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in December. Most calves are born during the warmer months but this little one decided to appear in the dead of winter and right before a significant snow storm as well.

At the time this picture was taken, it was only five days old. Sooner after, the Denver area got hit with a storm that deposited a good bit of snow and sent temperature plunging. Nevertheless, the little one weathered it like a champ.

These massive animals were hunted to the brink of extinction in the 1700s and 1800s with as few as 750 reported by 1890. Their numbers have since rebounded with about 500,000 now living on public and private lands. Native Americans call them Tatanka, a Lakota word that translated means “bull buffalo.”

A recently born Bison calf sticks close to its mom in the wake of a snowstorm. (© Tony’s Takes)

A recently born Bison calf sticks close to its mom in the wake of a snowstorm. (© Tony’s Takes)

"Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam…"

“Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam…” That’s right! I already have a home right near where that happens. 😉 I’ve gotten higher quality pics of similar scenes at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge but I never tire of seeing it or taking pictures of it. A recent snow covered the landscape in white from the plains to those imposing Rocky Mountains. Just gorgeous!

Bison graze on the plains near Denver, Colorado with the snow-covered Rocky Mountains in the background. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bison graze on the plains near Denver, Colorado with the snow-covered Rocky Mountains in the background. (© Tony’s Takes)

Young Bison samples the fresh snow

Human children have great fun running around with their tongues hanging out trying to catch snowflakes as they fall. For this young Bison, it was easier just to sample the snow and frost right off a nearby plant. Taken last month after a recent snowstorm, it seemed to really enjoy licking the plants rather than actually eating them. I can’t say I remember ever doing that as a kid but who knows, maybe it tastes good. 😉

A young Bison samples freshly fallen snow in Colorado.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A young Bison samples freshly fallen snow in Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bison bull takes a big whiff for Tatanka Tuesday

This was one big boy to say the least! Clearly one of the elders of the herd, he was large and in charge as he walked right up to my truck. As he got closer, something clearly got his nose’s attention and he raised his head performed the flehmen response.

Many mammals will curl their lips and raise their head, inhaling deeply allowing them to get a better sampling of a particular smell that interests them – kind of like a human taking a big whiff to smell something.

It used to be we called these buffalo but that actually was incorrect. While they are part of the same family that includes the European and African buffalo, the Bison is its own, distinct species. It is believed they were called buffalo by early North American explorers due to their resemblance to the Old World species. Native Americans call them Tatanka, a Lakota word that translated means “bull buffalo.”

A bull Bison displays the flehmen response. (© Tony’s Takes)

A bull Bison displays the flehmen response. (© Tony’s Takes)

Eye of the buffalo

What to do when the bison get so close to you that you are unable to capture a face portrait, let alone a full body shot? Zoom in further and get an extreme closeup! This massive bull came right up close to my truck allowing me to get this image and in fact, you can see the truck in the reflection in its eye. Amusingly enough, after it passed I was focused on others in the herd and this big guy would start licking my truck and scraping his horns against it! Kind of fun!

Black and white closeup of a Bison bull's face. (© Tony’s Takes)

Black and white closeup of a Bison bull’s face. (© Tony’s Takes)

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