Rattlesnake Hailstorm

Author:

Rachel Herring

Back in June I had the privilege of being a member of the Landmark Project crew organized by Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation working on The American Priaire Reserve. 

The American Prairie Reserve is a privately owned non-profit whose goal is to glue together existing public lands by buying the private land in between from whoever is willing to sell it thus eventually creating about a 3 to 3.5 million acre reserve and healthy ecosytem that native Northern American Prairie flora and fauna can thrive in. Another benefit of such a project is to give the world a glimpse of what it was like back before Manifest Destiny pushed Americans West and the Native Americans of the area and Bison were almost all but exterminated. Something that I believe is important heritage not only of this country but of the world and its natural history and legacy. 

 APR is a small, non-profit company that needs help collecting data about how wildlife uses the reserve which is where Landmark comes in. For example, part of the Landmark Crew's job is to manage and mantain motion and heat sensitive cameras along APR's wildlife friendly fences to make sure that all wildlife (except the Bison) are able to freely cross them. Another part of what we did is perform Bison counts to determine the calf and adult ratio of the Bison population. That's just the start of what we do, there is much more to it!

 

Here are some photos from my first two days on the prairie : 


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Photo by Shannon Rebinski 

 

We received a warm welcome from the local cows at our turn off for the prairie... they were more likely thinking to themselves,

"What are you doing all the way out here?"

 



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Photo by Shannon Rebinski  

 

They weren't kidding about the intense cement-like, slippery mud here! The locals call it "Gumbo."

 



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Photo by Shannon Rebinski 
 

Gearing up for our first day of training learning how to walk transects across the prairie using a GPS and filling out wildlife sighting forms.

 


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Photo by Shannon Rebinski

Mike teaching me how to operate and manage the trail cameras.

 


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 Photo by Rachel Herring

An unexpected thunderstorm rolled in during our hike forcing us to duck down into the dips in between the grassy hills and take cover from the lightning while it poured rain and hailed down on us. I also saw my first rattlesnake splayed out on some grass while walking to cover during the storm. I was pretty positive it was dead becuase of such odd behavior but the journalist I was walking next to thought otherwise and stopped me abruptly from going to have a closer look. Probably a smart idea, I'm too curious for my own good. This is a photo of the sky after the storm subsided and the clouds began to clear and the sun shone on the prairie once again.

 



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RH

Since our training was cut short by the epic storm we went to visit the nearby Indian Rock, a giant glacial rock covered in ptetroglyphs.

 



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Heading back to Buffalo Camp, my home for the month of June. 


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After we rested a bit at Buffalo Camp we took a sunset walk to the nearby prairie dog town.



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