bison range

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National Bison Range, Montana

you have to be a certain kind of weird to find fairly dangerous gravel roads cut into the sides of almost mountains the highlight of a road trip. i’m that kind of weird but with a side of crippling fear of heights. 

I’ve been less afraid on tornado warned storms than when we stopped on the edge of what looked like certain death if you ventured a half a foot from the road to take some pictures of the remarkable view. a place so beautiful you can shoot in the high sunlight and it’s still wildly dramatic. 

Butte and the Bison range are fighting it out in my mind for top spot in montana but I can tell you if I lived near this range I’d have to budget for daily trips onto the switchbacks and death roads. to watch sunsets, sunrises, storms bubble up and lumber on would be a life worth living. 

oh, and monstrous shaggy beasts for good measure.

Though the Museum’s diorama of American bison and pronghorn is set in the mid-1800s, its contents needed a 21st-century update. In 2012, this bison and its fellow animals in the Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals received touch-ups from a team of artists, taxidermists, and conservators. President Theodore Roosevelt, whose official New York State Memorial is at the Museum, was a major advocate for American bison. As a rancher living in North Dakota, he saw the animals’ decline. To prevent their extinction, he created two big game reserves: Montana’s National Bison Range and Oklahoma’s Wichita Game Preserve. When Roosevelt became vice president in 1900, bison were nearly extinct. Today, thanks in part to the President’s efforts, there are approximately 30,000 wild bison living in conservation on federal, tribal, state, and private lands.

You can find this touched-up bison in the Hall of North American Mammals: https://goo.gl/7Kxrxd

Spring has come to Montana. First time here for this season and I can say I’m happily surprised by how green the landscape has become. The start of last night’s sunset in the National Bison Range.

I made this the other day for a Cath/Levi future edit. I think Cath would defiantly be an freelance editor and also write her own stuff. I think eventually Levi would take over the family ranch and Cath would have an office like this with windows facing the fields so she could watch Levi herd Bison or whatever else range managers do (I seriously don’t know lol). Obviously there would be way more Simon/Baz paraphernalia on her desk, like her commemorative busts.

Thanatophilus lapponicus “Northern Carrion Beetle” Silphidae

April 2, 2016
National Bison Range, MT
Robert Niese

Photographed my first Silphid last week and, I must say, it was a horrendously smelly experience. These carrion beetles appear to prefer long-dead organisms, particularly reptiles and amphibians, and this little guy had apparently been hanging out in an extremely ripe carcass. I had to hold my breath every time I went in for a close-up! These beetles often overwinter in these carcasses, consuming the rotting flesh and maggots living there, until emerging at the first signs of spring. I might venture to guess that this is exactly what this individual did all winter, which might have contributed to its particular odor.

A good hat is a great thing. Taking in the desert heat at the National Bison Range yesterday and looked up to see a massive golden eagle soaring above. It’s safe to say the West has won us over.