Saturday, May 24, 2014

Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge

Today was a great day! We started off by meeting up with Tom's friend Mark Lindvall who was a member of the US Fish and Wildlife Service and managed the Valentine Nat'l Wildlife Refuge. He drove us into the refuge in an official US Fish and Wildlife Ford Explorer, past a town of chirping prairie dogs and many swooping playful swallows and into the large gated fields that contained their buffalo herd of 350+ buffalo!

While driving towards the herd through part of the 19,000 acres of land Mark told us about how the park was founded by the father of conservation himself, Teddy Roosevelt who ordered it to be done via executive orders in 1913. He also gave us a brief biology lesson on how the bison are mostly born in the spring and mature in about 4-5 years. We soon came up upon a windmill-powered watering hole that tapped into the Ogallala aquifer, which was just feet below us. A good part of the large herd of buffalo was at the watering hole. We all sat and gaped as Mark pulled up only feet away from the monstrous creatures which grunted and shifted out of the way. Wow! What an incredible sight seeing the legendary American Bison so up close!

After spending the majority of the morning snapping pictures and chatting about the various management practices of the refuge, Mark drove us back and lead us to one of his friends who owns a Ranch a little while away so that we could learn what a rancher's cow raising practices entail.

Bison at Refuge
Mark driving us close to Bison
It is safe in vehicle

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