Theodore Roosevelt National Park is one of the few areas in the west where free-roaming horses may be observed. The park maintains a herd of anywhere from 70 to over 100 wild horses so that visitors may experience the area as it was during the open range era of Theodore Roosevelt. Driving through the loop of the South Unit, you can glimpse the horses in fields and on top of bluffs in the distance. Often, as is the case with this image, these horses do get close.
Even though these mustangs get close to humans, it’s wise to keep a safe distance. They are still wild animals and can be suddenly disturbed and move quickly. It’s easy to think of these horses as you would some that are at ranches of today, but they have not been domesticated by humans.
From the National Park Service, “Once formed, these social groups remain remarkably stable and often range within an established territory. Each such group has an established social hierarchy. Upon reaching sexual maturity at age 2-3, young colts and fillies are driven from their natal group and form new bands. Occasionally a bachelor stallion may try to steal mares from an established group, resulting in fights between rival males. Foals are born in the spring after an 11 month gestation period; this is the only time when the stallions will tolerate the absence of a mature mare from the group.”
It was a rainy day in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It looked as though it would be dreary all day. During this period, I drove slowly through the park content to see what wildlife would present itself. Here a Western Meadowlark clung to the top of a tall shrub and would occasionally chirp, the wind carrying the shrill sound across the plateau. As the rain increased the branches began to sway back and forth, back and forth harder and harder until the meadowlark, now annoyed, flew away.
Slowly, but deliberately, on this same dreary day two buffalo moved slowly through the prairie of the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt. While moving through the tall bright yellow wildflowers, two birds continually swooped nearby. Ignoring the two dive bombers, the buffalo meandered on into the distance.
Trailing behind his or her companion, this buffalo followed the path laid out into the fields of the North Unit. Rain came down wetting their fur and backs, but it did not slow their progress.
A young bighorn sheep played on the top of the rocks and bluffs in Badlands National Park. Stopping only momentarily to take in it’s surroundings it glanced right at me as if to say “Catch me if you can!”
Late in the afternoon, I found myself watching these four Bighorn Kids as they traversed the rocks and cliffs. I am always amazed at the prowess of these creatures as they navigate in a seemingly impossible manner on the side of the badlands. I only wish I too had the aptitidue to scale almost vertical cliffs.
These two fawns were quietly munching on the grass on a field near the forest in Custer State Park in South Dakota. I had to capture these images very quietly as it appeared any little thing startled these two back into the trees.
Watching this little pronghorn antelope leap and play in the morning sun was a lot of fun. He would go and butt his head with his dad and then visit his mom who quietly sat in the tall grass. He’d stop and then he’d be up again running and leaping. Custer State Park and this pronghorn really embodied the lyric “where the deer and the antelope play”.
Be sure to check out the previous trip reports:
Equipment Used in the Making of These Images: