Photo of the Week – January 20, 2012

What’s more impressive in a prairie than a bull bison?  Standing over 6 feet tall at the shoulder, and weighing up to 2000 lbs or more, they can inspire awe, fear, and hope all at once.  While truly massive, bison are also surprisingly nimble and fast – they can run at speeds up to 40 miles per hour.

Bison bulls at The Nature Conservancy's Niobrara Valley Preserve in the sandhills of Nebraska.

These three bulls were grazing in a recently-burned portion of sandhills prairie when I came upon them while hiking last May.  I kept my distance and tried to get a few photographs of them as they slowly sauntered away – not exactly running away, but not hanging around either.  The bulls had been feeding in a recently burned portion of the prairie, and while they moved out of it to get away from me, I’m sure they returned to that lush new growth after I left them alone.