American Bison calf and cow on Antelope Island State ParkAmerican Bison calf and cow on Antelope Island State Park – Nikon D300, f9, 1/500, ISO 500, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR at 350mm, natural light

American Bison calving season on Antelope Island State Park begins around mid-April and yesterday I was able to get some nice images of the cows and their rusty red colored calves. Earlier last week when I first saw them they were too far from the road to photograph them so I was delighted because they were so close. There was a small traffic jam on the side of the road because of the cows and calves but everyone that I saw showed the bison respect by staying in their vehicles. When the cows have young calves it can stress them when people approach and could even lead to the cows charging the people to defend their calves.

Bison bull on Antelope IslandBison bull on Antelope Island – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/800, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 228mm, natural light

American Bison bulls have nothing to do with raising their young, they leave that to the cows. The bull often form a herd of their own after rut and don’t spend much time with the cows until it is time for their rutting season around the middle of summer.

American Bison cow and young calfAmerican Bison cow and young calf – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 500, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR at 380mm, natural light

Female American Bison weigh about 900 to 1000 pounds and when they give birth their calves can weigh as much 50 pounds or more. Within an hour of their births the calves are up and walking, thank goodness human children don’t so that, right Moms?  My oldest child walked at 9 months and that was soon enough for me! The calves in my two images are probably less than two weeks old and even though they are nursing they also graze on the grasses and they will retain their reddish color throughout their first summer.

I enjoy seeing and photographing the young calves frolicking in the grasslands on Antelope Island State Park or just watching them rest. Considering how close the American Bison came to extinction I am also grateful for those who helped to save America’s largest land mammal. Very grateful.