Monday, October 11, 2010

Nature, From Buffalo to Wall

Today's travels from Buffalo, Wyoming to Wall, South Dakota includes Mt. Rushmore, covered on the other blog.
Wyoming had taken us from high mountains to rolling flatlands of cattle country. This is the country that led us into South Dakota.  Sage is the plant I will remember most from this trip.
Sage, the anchor that keeps much of the western half of our country from blowing away. Its blue-gray tendrils reflecting the clouds swelling before a storm.
It wasn't too long before the rolling sage lands once again rose and rock cut through the earth to meet the sky.  
Rock outcroppings would continue to be the dominate landscape markers but soon it would not be God's shaping of the mountains that would draw our attention, but the work of human hands that sculpted the stone into Mt. Rushmore as well as currently sculpting a mountain into Crazy Horse, an Oglala warrior.
They will both be covered on the other blog.
Today, I want to show you another modification of nature, inadvertently brought on by people.
Several years ago, some mountain goats escaped from a zoo near the black hills of South Dakota.
Thriving in the rocky, yet relatively lush hills, the goats have multiplied into a small heard. 
Currently, all the adults are fitted with radio collars to track their location.
The large collar makes it appear that the goats are tame though they are not.
They also are not afraid of humans as long as we humans do not venture too close. It is illegal to shoot them here next to Mt. Rushmore, so they are usually safer around the tourists than out in the wilderness.  These goats, today, were chomping away a few feet away from the sidewalk at Mt. Rushmore National Monument.  Their siting near the monument is common enough for their to be a YouTube video from 2007.  

While they are not true goats, but are closer relatives of antelope and other bovine species, they resemble goats more than anything else with their short horns and beards (both male and female). It is the closest Jeff and I will get to wild mountain goats this year so we enjoyed watching the mother and her kid.


rebeccainthewoods said...

I think it's interesting that we call these guys, which are more closely related to antelope, "goats," and we call pronghorns, which are more closely related to goats, "antelope." Your photos from Wyoming and the Dakotas are making me nostalgic for last summer (2009, I mean), which I spent in the mixed-grass prairie of Saskatchewan. Beautiful country.

Beyond The Garden said...

I see why people feel the prairies are beautiful, though I am partial to my Appalachians, The environments of our youth often imprint on our soul.

wncmountainliving said...

Great post about a fabulous place. Lovely "goats" too.

outwalkingthedog said...

So interesting about the origins of that little herd of mountain goats. You're right, the collars certainly do make them look domesticated.