Friday, December 31, 2010

Bighorn Mating Behavior - Jackson, Wyoming

A Bighorn ram sniffs the urine of a female bighorn to see if she is getting ready to mate. Bighorn ewes will often stop to urinate when they are closely pursued by a ram. When the ram stops to investigate the urine, the ewe will often use this time to get away from a ram she does not appear to be interested in.
Once the Bighorn Ewe is ready to mate, she will mate with any ram that is close by. The rams compete with each other for mating privileges and use their large horns to batter each other for
the right to mate. The large, heavy horned rams do most of the mating. This provides an evolutionary push for the rams to develop big horns. When hunters kill the largest Bighorn rams as trophys, they upset this natural process that has been going on for many thousands of years. Heavily hunted populations of Bighorn sheep will produce rams that have smaller and smaller horns as time goes on.
Most domestic sheep have been selectively bred by man so that the rams do not have any horns at all. Hunters are doing the same thing to wild sheep.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Canyon Wolf Pack - Yellowstone National Park

I took this photo of the Canyon Pack in November. The pack consists of three adults and three pups. The three adults are the ones in front. The yawning black wolf is the alpha male and the very light gray wolf in front is the alpha female. The pups do not get their adult teeth until December and are not much help in hunting until they are a year old. These pups are about eight months old.

It was thought that the two gray pups had disappeared, but there are reports that all six wolves have been spotted near Mammoth Hotsprings in Yellowstone.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Elk Wintering on National Elk Refuge - Jackson, Wyoming

This is the view from in front of my motel just north of Jackson,Wyoming. Several thousand elk will spend the winter here. Refuge workers will start distributing alfalfa pellets for these elk early in January.
The refuge was established to compensate for elk winter range lost to ranching and housing developments in this part of Wyoming.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mule Deer - Jackson, Wyoming

These two mule deer have been browsing on Sagebrush. Sagebrush is a very important winter food for mule deer. Sagebrush has been plowed, sprayed and burned over the past 60 years and that has resulted in smaller populations of mule deer, sagehens, pygmy rabbits and other animals that rely on this shrub.

The large buck has an evergreen branch in his antlers that he ripped loose from a tree.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Elk Migration - National Elk Refuge - Jackson,wyoming

This line of elk extended for well over a mile. The refuge fence prevented me from getting an angle to show the long line of elk migrating into the refuge. There are about 6,000 elk on or very near the refuge at this time. The refuge staff will start feeding them alfalfa pellets in early January.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Old Mule Deer Buck - Jackson Wyoming

This old buck has 6 points on one antler and 5 on the other making him a 5x6 buck. The brow tine is not counted out here in the west. This buck probably had even larger antlers when he was a few years younger.
He is getting old, as indicated by his sway back and pot stomach. He lost a lot of weight during the rut in November. You can see his ribs and his hip bone is very prominent.
If it is a long cold winter, he might not make it until spring. He will have a hard time escaping from a wolf pack or a cougar this winter.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bull Moose Eating Willows - Jackson,Wyoming

This moose will live on these woody plants for most of the winter. He has a broken horn from fighting during the rut in September. He will loose both of these antlers in the next week or so. I heard of one bull that has already lost his. (Dec. 21)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bighorn Rams - Alberta, Canada

This is how Bighorn Rams look in herds that are protected from hunting. They didn't get shot when they were young.
These rams live in an area that has no domestic livestock to compete with them for food and no domestic sheep to give them disease.
Compare this photo to the ram in the previous photo in Wyoming, where the rams get hunted every year. When hunters continually kill the largest rams in a herd, the small rams breed the ewes and gradually a smaller horned population of Bighorn Sheep is produced.

Bighorn Ram - National Elk Refuge, Jackson, Wyoming

There are 50-60 Bighorn Sheep wintering on the National Elk Refuge. They are easily seen by driving east on Broadway in Jackson and out the refuge road. They often graze right along the road and are used to seeing people. This ram is one of the biggest rams that I saw.
I didn't see any large, full curl rams in the herd, which leads me to believe that the Wyoming Fish and Game Department is allowing too many of the large rams to be hunted and killed on their summer range. A herd of 50 Bighorns would have several full curl rams in an unhunted population.
Bighorns are the easiest of all wildlife for me to approach for photos. Hunting magazines would have you believe that they are difficult to find and even harder to kill, which is not true. I was about 30 yards from this ram when I took this photo.
Bighorns are subject to catching disease from domestic sheep. Many Bighorns have died (up to 1000)this year in Montana and Wyoming due to diseases acquired from their domestic cousins.
Domestic sheep should not be allowed to graze on any public lands inhabited by Bighorns.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


USDA Photo

When ever Idaho ranchers have a wolf problem, they call "Wildlife Services", a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to kill them. A "problem wolf" is one that has killed any livestock. One calf killed may be used as an excuse for killing an entire pack of wolves.

They use two aircraft to locate and kill the wolves. An airplane equipped with a radio receiver circles high overhead and homes in on the wolves's radio collars and then a helicopter closes in and a Wildlife Services Agent (like the one in the photo) shoots them with #4 buckshot out of a 10 gauge shotgun. The last wolf killed is the one with the radio collar.

This is a taxpayer provided subsidy to the ranchers. This is what you get for your hard earned tax dollar.

This agency kills hundreds of wolves in Idaho and Montana each year. They kill millions of wildlife in the U.S. each year, and have the audacity to call themselves "Wildlife Services".


Monday, December 13, 2010

Bighorn Ewes - Jackson, Wyoming

These bighorn ewes are pawing the snow off of the grass so they can eat. The snow came early this year and I hope these bighorns are in this good of shape in the spring. It is going to be a long cold winter.
Bighorns eventually wear their teeth out from grazing on hard dry grasses like these ewes are doing. Bighorns seldom live to be more than 14-15 years old because of this.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Black Bear Eating Service Berries - Grand Teton National Park

This blackbear seems to like the service berries. I tried them and found them to be rather tasteless and bland.

Native americans used to mix service berries with fat and dried meat to make pemmican for winter food. Early trappers and pioneers called them "Sarvis" berries. My father used that term for them when I was young.

This bear has a ring around his neck from a radio collar that just fell off. He has a yellow numbered button in his ear.

I get so tired of all the animals in our national parks looking like branded livestock. It doesn't seem to matter which park I am in, most of the animals I see have these intrusive devices on them.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Moose In The Snow - Grand Teton National Park

This big moose is posing during a snow storm. He will lose those big antlers about the first of January. He will start growing some new ones in the spring and depending on his age, they will either be larger or smaller next year. If he is young they will be larger. If he is getting old, they will be smaller.
I just installed Photoshop Elements 9 and this not as sharp as I had planned. It will take me a few tries to get these sized right for the internet.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Abused Grizzly Bear - Yellowstone National Park

This is not the greatest photo of this old Grizzly. I have avoided taking photos of him because he appeared to have deformed ears and it would not be a photo I could sell at art shows etc.

I recently found out from another photographer that the reason that this bears ears are deformed, is that he has scratched them for years, trying remove the numbered plastic ear plugs that Yellowstone researchers have put in his ears. He has practically scratched his ears off.

I was told that what was left of his ears were bleeding in November 2010, when the Yellowstone Park roads closed.

No one who really cares about wildlife would do this to any animal.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Abused Cow Elk With Radio Collar - Yellowstone National Park

This cow elk has been fitted with a radio- collar by an incompetent researcher. The radio-collar is far too tight and is causing this animal some distress. This kind of bumbling, intrusive research is very common in Yellowstone and is practiced on most species of birds and mammals. Wildlife in Yellowstone are not managed, so this useless information is used only for unread reports and for fulfilling the requirements of the researcher for an advanced college degree.

Yellowstone requirements for research studies insist that the collars have a release mechanism or have sections of cloth that will rot and release the collar. This collar has neither. Yellowstone also requires that the collars be colored to match the animals color. Someone forgot to read (Or can't read) the regulations before placing this collar on this unfortunate elk. (Probably working on his/her PhD.)

When wolves run through an elk herd looking for an elk that looks or acts different from the rest to pursue, this elk will be the one selected. The researcher just as well have painted "KILL ME" in large letters on this elk.

A Radio-Collared Elk Is A Dead Elk!