Sunday, January 30, 2011

Colorful Caribou - Yukon Territories - Canada

How did I get a shot like this? Well it wasn't easy. I had to act like I was Jack London and head north towards Alaska.
First, I drove a few thousand miles up the Alaska Highway to Whitehorse on the Yukon River. From there I went out a few hundred miles toward Dawson and turned north on the Dempster Highway, which is a gravel road that led me another hundred miles out to the Arctic Circle. I was a long way from the nearest help, but I enjoyed the adventure.
I decided that hiking around on the tundra by myself, with the temperature well below zero, was a good way to end up dead, so I stayed pretty close to the road. I tried to always keep my pickup in sight whenever I was out hiking on the tundra.
The temperature in October was minus 10 F during the day, colder at night, and everything in my pop up camper was frozen solid. I left water in my tea kettle every night so I could melt it the next morning to make some breakfast. Cooking eggs that are frozen solid is an interesting experience. I ate a lot of pan cakes as the mix was easy to do with the melted ice from my tea kettle.
My camper has a small furnace, but it runs the battery down on cold nights and I like my pickup to start in the morning, so I didn't use it often.
It took four days of living like this before I saw my first Caribou. The migration to the wintering grounds had started! I spent four more days following the Caribou around. Actually, I tried to be anticipate where they were heading and try to intercept them. They trot a lot faster than they appear to be moving.
I was seeing the world famous Porcupine Caribou Herd that comes out of Alaska to winter in the Yukon.
I didn't see White Fang, but I found lots of Caribou( I saw about six thousand out of the hundred thousand that make up the herd), but most of them avoided the road because there were native hunters out looking for them. I was lucky to get this bull actually crossing the Dempster. I also saw a Wolverine, but it was too fast and too far away to get a photo.
I added some saturation to the original photo and posterized it.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Bull Elk - National Elk Refuge - Jackson, Wyoming

It warmed up a few days ago and the ice melted on Flat Creek, which runs through the refuge. These bull elk used the warmer weather to eat the grass exposed along the edge of Flat Creek as the snow melted back a little. Two of the bulls have a broken antler. Can you find them?

There are about 7,500 elk on or near the refuge at this time. Refuge workers are feeding these elk alfalfa pellets every day this time of year, but they prefer natural foods when they are available.

These large bulls will start shedding their antlers in March. After the elk leave the refuge this May, local boy scouts will gather the shed antlers and sell them. An Elk Antler Auction is held in Jackson and attracts buyers from many states.

Artisans buy the antlers to make chandeliers, furniture and other items out of the antlers. The money earned by the scouts is shared with other community charities.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Grizzly Steals Elk From Canyon Wolf Pack - Yellowstone National Park

This Grizzly Bear has taken this Bull Elk away from the Canyon Wolves and has pulled it up next to a tree and covered it with grass to keep the wolves away from it.
The black alpha male Wolf is trying to convince the Grizzly to leave and let the Wolves have the Elk back. It didn't work. The Grizzly stayed on top of the dead Elk for three days and only left to occasionally get a drink from the nearby lake. He didn't leave until he had eaten the entire Elk.

Yellowstone Grizzlies have learned to follow wolf packs, knowing that sooner or later they will kill an Elk. The Grizzlies then take over and the wolves have to go hunting again. This makes it difficult for the wolves to raise their pups. Hunting Elk is dangerous and exhausting work.

This past fall, I had to be careful every time I was near the Canyon Pack because a very large Grizzly called Scarface would show up within the next hour or so. He followed the wolves wherever they went.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Yellowstone Wolves - Druid Pack -Yellowstone National Park

Four mange infested members of the Druid Pack make an attempt to kill an elk(the elk eventually escaped) in the Lamar River(Fall 2009). The wolves have very little hair on their tails and hair is missing in big patches on their bodies.and at least two of them are handicapped by the large radio collars around their necks. You can see the big radio-collar on the black wolf next to the elk. The combination of mange and radio-collars proved lethal and these wolves all died within a few months after I took this photo. The Druid Pack is Gone!

The wolves kept this elk in the river for several hours. At one time there were seven wolves swimming after the elk. Each time the wolves tried to grab the elk, she managed to stay just out of reach. In this photo, the elk has just struck with her hooves at the three wolves on the left and they are scrambling to get out of her way.

The mange infected wolves would get cold and retreat to shore to get warm. The radio collared wolves would spend time scratching at their collars. Finally they were all stretched out in the sun and the elk was able to slip away.

I found myself with mixed emotions while I watched this dramatic event. I wanted the mange infested wolves to catch the elk so they could survive, yet I found myself cheering for the elk each time she dodged them. I also cursed the idiots that put these huge, intrusive radio-collars on the wolves.

A Radio-Collared Wolf Is A Dead Wolf!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Radio Collared Yellowstone Bison Killed By Montana Livestock Agents

A radio-collared Yellowstone Bison Cow equipped with a vaginal radio transmitter, similar to the cow in this photo, was shot and killed by Montana Livestock Agents two days ago, when it swam the Yellowstone river and wandered into an area that livestock interests don't want to see Bison.

Twenty five Radio-collared Bison were hazed out of Yellowstone earlier this month in a multi-million dollar experiment to see if some Bison could be allowed to migrate out of Yellowstone in the winter to traditional winter ranges.

All of the cows were fitted with vaginal radio transmitters so that researchers could monitor any births taking place this spring.

Montana Livestock Agents and Yellowstone Park Biologists are having a meeting to try to decide what to do with the remaining twenty four bison. Killing them all is one of the options.

Sounds like a mad scientist experiment gone wrong? It is.

Yellowstone National Park has been turned into a intrusive zoo where the animals are fitted with radio-collars in never ending studies similar to this sad case.
A recently ended cougar study used dogs to chase, tree and radio-collar every adult Cougar and most of the kittens in the northern range of Yellowstone. Every other Wolf in Yellowstone has been chased down by biologists in helicopters and collared.

Grizzly bears are routinely snared with injury causing leg hold cable snares. Coyotes are routinely caught in steel traps for collaring. River otters have radio transmitters placed in their body cavities. The only Wolverines in Yellowstone are radio-collared. The only Lynx are radio-collared. The Elk are collared.

This same abuse disguised as research is common in ALL of our National Parks!

UPDATE!! 2/1/11 Thirteen of the original twenty five Bison were captured and transported back into Yellowstone last week. This $3.3 million boondoggle gets more depressing with every passing day.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Red Fox - Donnelly, Idaho

It has been a long hard winter and this fox's coat has been bleached by the winter sun. The fox is starting to shed its' winter coat and looks a little ragged.
I took this photo last spring near my property in Donnelly, Idaho. This fox and its' mate had a den with six kits. The den was dug up a week later by someone's dog and I don't know if the kits survived or not. I didn't see them again.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mule Deer Buck - Alberta, Canada

As human population continues to expand into areas occupied by wildlife, animals, such as this large mule deer buck, often are forced to come into towns to eat the shrubs and lawn grasses in order to survive the winter.
I was driving through a town in Alberta a few years ago, when I spotted this huge buck posing in front of this man-made rock wall.
I took this photo from the window of my pickup. I have learned over the years not to get very specific about the exact locations of wildlife that I photograph. I don't like to try to retake some of my photos, only to find fifteen other photographers and a tour bus full of Japanese tourists crowding the wildlife that I used to have by myself.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Northern Flicker (Red Shafted) - Idaho

I get bored sitting in a blind, but sometimes it pays off. I have lots of berms decorated with stumps of various sizes on my property and this year a pair of Flickers made their nest hole in one of my stumps.

I set my pop-up blind up soon after the female started sitting on her eggs and by the time that the young were sticking their heads out, the adults had accepted the blind as part of the environment.

They had already accepted me as part of their environment, or they wouldn't have made their nest hole right where I walk by every day.

I caught this male flicker just as he landed to feed one of his male offspring.
The Flickers seemed to have found an an inexhaustible supply of large black carpenter ants that they constantly brought in their crops to feed their young.

Flickers lay beautiful pink eggs. This pair had six of them, that I could see with a flashlight when the female left the nest occasionally.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Stumped - Red Fox On A Stump - Idaho

This fox is looking at me like: "OK, You got me to pose on this stump, now what do you want me to do?"
Foxes are very agile and can leap up on stumps much taller than this one. They have great balance and can trot down small downed trees with ease.
They will get lots of practice in Idaho where I live in the summer, because we experienced two major wind storms that downed hundreds of trees in my neighborhood this past summer and fall. I stood in my yard during the first one and watched large trees get blown over all over the area. I lost the tops of four trees and could hear huge Ponderosa Pines going down near close by Cascade Lake. Power lines were down everywhere and roads were closed with large trees blocking traffic. Quite an event.
I used a Canon 5D with a Canon 500 mm. lens for this photo

Friday, January 21, 2011

Red Fox - Donnelly, Idaho

Here is another photo of a red fox that lives near me in Donnelly. He would show up last fall every afternoon and proceed to wander around on my property like he owned it. Of course, I took every visit as an opportunity to take lots of photos.

I use Canon equipment for wildlife photography. Not that it is any better than some other brands, but once you buy some expensive lenses, you can't afford to switch.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Gray Wolves - Yellowstone National Park

When people ask me how I get some of the wolf photos that I do, I always tell them my secret: BE THERE.
The way to find wolves is to spend lots of time where they live. Most of the time that I see wolves, they are too far away to get decent photos of them, but once in a while I get lucky and get a photo like this.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pronghorns Mating - Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

The Pronghorn fawn seems to be taking it all in. The drive to reproduce is one of nature's strongest. This Pronghorn buck set up and defended his territory against other males for this one goal.

Pronghorns mate in September and give birth about the first of June. Twins are most common and young female pronghorns can mate when they are about sixteen months old, which gives Pronghorns the ability to rapidly increase their population if conditions are favorable.

Wolves in Yellowstone have decreased the Elk numbers and the Pronghorns have benefited from the availability of more food. The Pronghorn bucks have been growing larger horns in the last few years, because of better nutrition.

Pronghorns are the only hollow horned mammal to annually shed their horns. The outer covering of this buck's horn will fall off in late October and will replaced by new growth next summer. The horn is composed of tightly fused hair.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Lonely Old Bison - Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

I had seen Wolves less than a mile from where I took this photo, so I came back to look for this old skeleton of a Bison during the next couple of days, thinking the Wolves would find and kill her.
About three days after I took this photo, I saw several Magpies landing near an irrigation ditch. When I investigated, I found the this Bison had managed to get into the ditch and then could not get out and had died there. This part of Grand Teton National Park was once a working ranch and it has ditches in various places on the property.

I always check for dead animals when I see Ravens or Magpies on the ground. I should say that I "carefully" check on them, because this is Grizzly country and where you see Magpies or Ravens there is often a Grizzly Bear feeding on a carcass. I have been charged by Grizzlies on two occasions and it is not an experience that I would like to repeat.

I returned to the area several times thinking the Wolves or a Grizzly would scavenge on the carcass and I would get some photos of them. Some Coyotes found her and consumed what little meat was on these old bones, but the Wolves and Grizzlies never found her, or if they did, decided there wasn't enough meat on her bones to interest them.

Wolves have a difficult time killing bison because of their size and their herding instinct which presents Wolves with several dangerous adult Bison to confront if they want to kill one.
This old Bison would have been easy prey if the Wolves found her by herself. They very well may have checked her out and were not interested.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Gray Wolves - Yellowstone National Park

I took this photo a few years ago and just rediscovered it while looking at some of my files while it was raining yesterday. These wolves are part of a pack of nine and are running toward the rest of the pack. The lead wolf has its' ears back in a submissive gesture as it approaches the other wolves. The wolf in back is the alpha male of the pack and has his ears up in a dominant signal.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Red Fox - Donnelly, Idaho

Having a fox adopt you is fun, especially if you are a wildlife photographer. This fox seemed to enjoy checking out stumps and logs on my property. I live about 100 yards from Cascade Lake and there is a large area of public forest that runs along the lake for about a mile next to my property. There are white tail deer, foxes, porcupines, raccoons, and assorted smaller animals like squirrels that make their homes here. Ospreys eat fish in a large tree nearby and an occasional bald eagle lands there also.
This fox is starting to grow a winter coat, which seems to start with the tail and then covers the rest of the body. This fox will appear to be much larger after it gets fully covered with long winter length hair.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Gray Wolf - Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Some things never change. The first wolf I ever saw, was in Denali National Park in Alaska twenty five years ago and had a green radio collar around its' neck. This one, which is my first Teton National Park wolf photo, has a black radio-collar.
I got this photo last fall, by dressing in full camouflage and sitting in front of a tree to break up my outline. I had seen wolves in this area from a distance a few days before.
This wolf came out of some willows and stared in my direction. It couldn't tell what I was and soon went about its' business of hunting voles.
I have photographed well over a hundred wolves in the wild and have never found one that was aggressive toward me. They are quite content to go about their own routine if humans allow them to do so.
I like to see wolves in our national parks, but I get really tired of seeing them with radio-collars.
It somehow ruins the experience for me.
I come to national parks to see wild animals, not to see tagged and collared animals that look like they belong in a zoo or game farm.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Great Gray Owl Fledgling - Finalist for International Wildlife Photographer of The Year

I just received information that the International Wildlife Photographer of the Year Contest is open for entries. This photo was a finalist in the competition last year. Several of my photos have made it to the semi-finals in the past three years, but this is my first finalist.
Now I have to decide which photos to send in for this years competition. I plan on winning one of these days.
This young owl could fly quite well, but still depended on its' mother to bring it food. These large owls show no fear of man and are very easy to approach. The hard part is finding them in the first place.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Collateral Damage - Bighorn Sheep - Glacier National Park


I took this photo of a radio-collared female Bighorn Sheep several years ago in Glacier National Park near the Many Glacier Hotel. I had just watched a park ranger shoot the ewe in the head, blowing her brains out all over the snow..
When I confronted him for shooting this sheep, he told me that she had been overdosed with drugs, when researchers darted her the day before, to place the radio-collar around her neck.

Since she couldn't get up twenty four hours later, they decided to kill her.

The ranger wanted my roll of film because: "It was an un-authorized photo". You can see that he didn't get it.
I wonder how many times something like this took place with no one there to observe or record it, or if they were there, they were intimidated into giving up their film.

Researchers don't report it when they kill an animal because they don't want to get fired for being incompetent or banned from a National Park. They list animals like this dead Bighorn as "Unknown Cause of Death" in their reports.

Park officials, like the ranger that wanted my film, try to cover up these type of research mishaps because they don't want to look bad and of the fear that funding may get cut if contributors find out.

I am sure this same scene has been repeated again and again, by researchers that use these devices and capture techniques all over the world.

If you google "Tracking wildlife by telemetry" you will see that there are thousands of wildlife research studies using radio-collars, going on at the same time, often with the same results.

Red Fox Profile - Donnelly, Idaho

Here is another photo of my resident fox. This fox follows me around and watches me while I work on my property. It is sort of like having a small dog only he keeps his distance. He is very polite and will hang around in the evening looking for a handout.
There are two fox dens within walking distance of my home which makes it convenient to get photos of the baby foxes in the spring.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Pika - Craters of The Moon, Idaho

I took this photo in August 2010. This little guy was out in the morning looking for bitterbrush and other shrubs to clip and store for the coming winter. When afternoon surface temperatures reach 120+ degrees F on this black lava, this little rabbit will be underground where it is cool.
My ten year old grandson served as my Pika spotter when we visited The Craters of The Moon.
Pikas are his favorite wild animals.

Researchers are claiming that global warming will destroy Pikas all over the world. They need to make a trip to the Craters of The Moon and see that Pikas are very adaptable.
What Pikas and other wildlife really need is to be left alone by researchers
that intrude constantly on our nation's wildlife.

I am sure that some money-hungry research team has already made a proposal for a research grant to radio-collar Pikas somewhere in North America. These cute litte guys deserve better.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Red Fox - Donnelly, Idaho

This fox is posing on my neighbors lawn last September. She is starting to grow her winter coat.
Valley County, Idaho protects foxes from hunting and trapping so the foxes become quite tame. Many county residents like myself really enjoy our foxes. I think this might be a good wildlife protection ordinance for many counties to adopt.
Trapping animals like this fox are one of those things that should have been stopped about a hundred years ago. Trapping has no place in our modern world.

Monday, January 10, 2011

River Otters Swimming - Jackson, Wyoming

I took this photo last fall as I traveled through the Tetons on my way to Yellowstone. The fall colors reflecting off of the water gave the photo a very interesting look. The otters were chasing each other, swimming rapidly and produced quite a wake.

River Otters travel in family groups like wolves do and come out of the water to mark their territory by urinating on rocks and river debris similar to the way wolves mark their territory. Otters will travel great distances over mountain ranges to get to another river drainage. I have seen their trails in the snow where they toboggan on their stomachs for miles far from water.

Young otters that get separated from their family call out with a very loud "chirp". They love to play and spend a lot of time playing in and out of the water.

Biologists cannot get radio collars to stay on otter's necks, so they capture the otters and open them up and put radio transmitters in their abdominal cavities. The radios are left in the otters after the batteries go dead. I suspect that makes the otters go dead.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Red Fox Resting - Donnelly, Idaho

The weather has been ugly and gray here in Jackson, Wyoming, so I had so time to check some of the photos I took last fall in at my home in Idaho. This fox adopted me last summer and would show up every afternoon or evening to see if he could entice me to share a sandwich or something. He would show up at my campfire and sit at the other side watching me.
Foxes are very cat-like and can climb up or jump up on tree trunks and stumps.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Radio Collared Yellowstone Bison To Get Vaginal Transmitters

Twenty five Yellowstone Bison are going to be fitted with radio collars like this one and the collared females are going to be implanted with vaginal transmitters so biologists can determine when and where they give birth. Sounds like something out of a mad scientist horror movie? It is. I am surprised they don't dye them fluorescent green so they glow in the dark.
These twenty five Bison will be allowed to leave Yellowstone near Gardiner, Montana this winter and travel through the Church Universal Triumphant property under a $3.3 million dollar deal with the church to let the migrating bison trespass on their ranch on their way to public lands outside of Yellowstone. Sounds like a money- wasting government boondoggle? It is.
Yellowstone has become a Mecca for mad scientist type biologists with radio collars, body cavity radio transmitters, and helicopters who treat the animals in Yellowstone like experimental domestic livestock. The administrators of Yellowstone have lost all concept of what Yellowstone was envisioned to be when the park was set aside as a refuge for WILDLIFE.

Friday, January 7, 2011

On The Hunt - Canyon Pack - Yellowstone National Park

The Canyon Pack adult wolves set out on a hunt. (October 2010) They have left three pups behind, which they will bring food to after making a kill. The Black Wolf is the alpha male and the light gray wolf is the alpha female. The large gray male wolf (non-alpha) leads the hunt, which goes against common lore that the alphas are always the leaders. I have observed this wolf pack over three years and the gray male wolf seems to always be in the front leading the pack when I see them.
The black wolf has a radio collar. I fear that the new pups will be collared this winter. The Yellowstone Wolf Biologists (Led by Doug Smith) just can't seem to leave these animals alone. They get collars donated to them by the Yellowstone Foundation and if enough collars are donated, they put them all on, even if it means that more than half of the wolves get collared. This intrusive study has been going on for over fifteen years and has put collars on over seven hundred and fifty nine(759) wolves. It is time to stop this study and quit harassing the wolves.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Bighorn Browsing On Sagebrush - Jackson, Wyoming

When the snow covers the grasses that Bighorns usually graze on, they turn to sagebrush for their nutritional needs. Sagebrush is used by many animals during the winter and allows them to survive in very harsh habitats.
Humans have destroyed about 40% of the original sagebrush habitat by plowing and burning for agriculture and by covering it up with subdivisions and shopping centers. If we want wildlife such as Bighorns, Mule Deer, Pronghorns and Sage Grouse to survive, the remaining sagebrush covered areas must be preserved.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Sleeping Indian - Jackson, Wyoming

The top of this mountain east of Jackson, Wyoming resembles an Indian Chief lying on his back and is so named.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Bull Moose Without Antlers- Jackson,Wyoming

This bull Moose has shed his antlers in the last few days. You can see the scar on his head where his right antler was attached. I observed two other bull Moose today and they still had both of their antlers. They will be losing their antlers soon.

This bull will start growing a new set of antlers in the spring and will have a new set next September when the rut starts.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Bighorn Mating Behavior - Miller Butte - Jackson, Wyoming

The Bighorn ewe being pursued by the young rams in the previous photo, climbed up on this ledge where she is being guarded by a larger ram. The large mature rams keep the smaller rams from harassing the females and do most of the mating. When hunting reduces the number of large rams in a herd, the ewes get chased excessively by the young rams.
The ram in this photo was the largest ram I have observed in this herd and he is not very big compared to rams in non-hunted herds in national parks. Hunting and killing the large rams for trophies gradually produces a population of inferior rams with small horns. This ram is a prime example. His male offspring will have horns similar to his. If he gets killed in the next hunting season, even smaller horned rams will mate with the ewes.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Bighorn Mating Behavior - Jackson ,Wyoming

Young Bighorn rams pursue a young bighorn ewe during the winter rut. It is not unusual to see as many as ten rams pursuing one ewe when they have determined that she is ready to mate. In an un-hunted population, there would be some large mature rams in this group. The large rams would try to keep the young rams from mating and would be mostly successful. This herd of Bighorns has no very large rams because of over hunting. Hunters consistently kill the largest rams and only the smaller rams are left to do the mating.
Hunters pay high fees for a permit to kill a large ram and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department allows too many permits because of all the money they can make from this practice.