Many people remarked about the absence of wolf photos after I returned from the wolf study course in Yellowstone. I had some fabulous photographs of wolf scat, but no actual canis lupus. As my photographic skill is limited and my small point and shoot has a paltry zoom, capturing wildlife through the lens has been difficult, unless I wanted to risk being eaten or trampled. In Yosemite this wasn’t much of an issue (how many photos does one need of a steller’s jay?), but in this park representatives of what my BFF calls ‘charismatic mega-fauna’ walk by my front door daily.
I’m happy to report that I’ve rectified the problem and bison will no longer appear as indistinct dots in my photos. I spent an hour in a local camera store in Bozeman this weekend and the wonderful clerk helped me get outfitted. I still remain ignorant of terms like f-stop and aperture, but it doesn’t matter—all I really need to do is press a button and presto, a photo appears.
For my first photo safari, I ventured about 100 yards from my door and observed mule deer and pronghorn antelope. I love this graceful ungulate-- a dainty yet fast creature that looks like it belongs on an African savannah. Pronghorns are the fastest land mammal in North America and can reach speeds of up to 60 miles an hour. I happen to live in one of the best places in the park to view pronghorn; Yellowstone has a population of about 300-400 animals.
Sadly the pronghorn, which also has holds the record for the longest land migration route in the continental US, is in danger of disappearing in Yellowstone because of human development that has disturbed their annual 400 mile trek. Efforts are underway to preserve the migration corridors and protect the park’s herd.