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Bison

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Wildlife drama as Bison calves struggle to cross fast-moving river

Our first day in Yellowstone National Park last week provided some heart-pounding action. Arriving in the afternoon we only had time for a quick drive and checked out the west side of the park along the Madison River. We were happy to find a Bison herd farther west than we had seen them in the past.

Soon though, a drama unfolded as four calves had become separated from the herd and were on the opposite side of the river. A wet winter and spring had the river running very fast and very full. The calves ran back and forth along the river’s edge before finally making the plunge.

They struggled mightily against the fast-moving current and those of us watching couldn’t help but feel scared for them. With lumps in our throats we cheered then on and thankfully, all four made it across and were reunited with their very happy mothers.

Scroll down to view the complete series of images.

Bison calves struggle to swim across the fast-moving Madison River in Yellowstone National Park. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bison calves struggle to swim across the fast-moving Madison River in Yellowstone National Park. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bison calf enjoys the lazy days of spring

Springtime means babies in the animal world and the herd has had a bumper crop this year. By my count there were nine new calves at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, all born within the past month. This past weekend the temperatures in the sun were comfortable and conditions calm so it seemed like a great day to just lay down in a field among the wildflowers and take in the new world these little guys just came into.

A Bison calf lounges among the grasses and wildflowers on the Colorado plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bison calf lounges among the grasses and wildflowers on the Colorado plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bison bull marches head on in black and white

A fitting image for Tatanka Tuesday. When you see this big guy coming, there is little doubt who has the right of way. 😉

Poor weather with heavily overcast skies and light rain limited the photo opportunities on my after work drive last Friday. Thankfully two, massive, Bison bulls gave me some great pics as they marched right toward my truck.

There is something about these animals that to me compel a conversion to black and white. In my mind, it helps to convey the Old West that they are most often associated with plus it just makes them look really cool. What do think?

Native Americans call the bison 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.

If you’re interested, this image is available for sale here.

An American Bison bull walks menacingly directly toward the viewer. (© Tony’s Takes)

An American Bison bull walks menacingly directly toward the viewer. (© Tony’s Takes)

American Bison strolling by the Mile High City

A bit of the old west meeting the new. In some ways, seeing these massive creatures roam so close to a major city seems out of place. However, we are the ones intruding on their ancestral lands.

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.

An American Bison bull walks on the plains with Denver, Colorado and the Rocky Mountains in the background.  (© Tony’s Takes)

An American Bison bull walks on the plains with Denver, Colorado and the Rocky Mountains in the background. (© Tony’s Takes)

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)

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