Photo of the Week – October 29, 2015

As I mentioned in my last two posts, I was up at the Niobrara Valley Preserve last week, helping with a bison roundup.  As I mentioned in my last post, I helped with the roundup, but I also took photos – both of people and bison (and leaves, and crickets, and…).  I shared one of the bison photos last week.  Here are a few more shots of these beautiful animals.

Bison roundup at TNC Niobrara Valley Preserve. Nebraska.

A bison cow looks into the camera.  The Nature Conservancy’s Niobrara Valley Preserve, Nebraska

The sky was overcast all day, but now and then the sky brightened enough to make “portrait” photography work.  As long as I kept still while standing outside the pens, the bison didn’t seem overly bothered by my presence.

Bison roundup at TNC Niobrara Valley Preserve. Nebraska.

A young-of-the-year calf.

Getting up close to these animals is a great reminder of their athletic abilities.  For the most part, the animals are relatively calm as they move through the pens and alleyways, but now and then there is a flurry of activity.  A bison will spin on a dime and head in the other direction much faster than you’d expect.  One animal will shove another out of its path, showing off the incredible strength in its neck and upper body.  It’s never a good idea to underestimate these animals.

Bison roundup at TNC Niobrara Valley Preserve. Nebraska.

This shaggy old bull barely fit through the final alleyway.  We made sure to make his passage as quick as possible, and he went through without incident.

Bison roundup at TNC Niobrara Valley Preserve. Nebraska.

A closer look at the same big bull.

Design of bison corrals is continually improving.  Construction of a new corral for our east herd (these photos are from the west herd) is just wrapping up.  It incorporates the most up-to-date design components available, including lessons learned from other bison herds around the country and from experts like Temple Grandin.  Each improvement is aimed at decreasing stress on the animals and increasing the speed and efficiency of the whole operation.  I’m excited to see the new corral in operation when we test it out early next year.

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About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is the Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska. His main role is to evaluate and capture lessons from the Conservancy’s land management and restoration work and then share those lessons with other landowners – both private and public. In addition, Chris works to raise awareness about the importance of prairies and their conservation through his writing, photography, and presentations to various groups. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press. He lives in Aurora, Nebraska with his wife Kim and their children.
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3 Responses to Photo of the Week – October 29, 2015

  1. Novalene thurston says:

    I’m happy to hear the wonderful work of Temple Grandin is influencing bison handling! What a force of nature she is!

  2. Chuck stanley says:

    Great photos Chris!! Thanks for sharing

  3. Denise Westlake says:

    Like!

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