Saturday, November 04, 2006

Yellowstone National Park - Pronghorn

September 2005

With the coming of fall many of the herd animals are galvanized into action during mating season. Males mark and then defend territories, and the females within the territory, against other would-be challenging males. It is a wonderful time to observe and photograph animals since they are absolutely unconcerned with you, and are absolutely driven to distraction by the need to pass their own genes down into future generations. Such is the case with these pronghorn, the fastest land mammal in North America (they are able to sustain sprints of 50 miles per hour!) I watched in fascination as this male first marked his territory on sagebrush, then snorted and wheezed as a challenger approached. In the end the male had to chase the pesky challenger away. The females, for their part, seemed unconcerned and almost uninterested in all of these high-speed chases.

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