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In Context #14 (Fall, 2005, pp. 3-6); copyright 2005 by The Nature Institute

Wildlife Observations
Craig Holdrege

National Bison Range, Montana (Photo by C. Holdrege).

In early summer Henrike and I and our fourteen-year-old son, Martin, traveled to the Rocky Mountains of Montana and Wyoming. Our aim was to observe wildlife, and particularly the bison, which I have begun to study. We found unexpected abundance: in addition to the hundreds of bison we saw in different herds, we came across nineteen bears (mainly black bears and a couple of grizzlies), wolves (in Yellowstone), coyotes, pronghorns (a unique antelope of the American west), both white-tailed and mule deer, elk, moose, and the large numbers of small rodents whose tunnel openings you encounter nearly every step you take. This is to leave aside all the birds we saw. After two weeks, we felt we had not only bathed in the beautiful landscapes, but also participated to a small degree in a world where wild animals play a significant role.

When you watch animals as we did for only short periods of time, you try to take in as much as you can. You want to gain vivid impressions of the animals' appearance, movements and ways of behaving, which include what they are relating to. Usually I