Young Bones

Posted by Ellen

In the mountains north of Missoula, Montana, is an old ranch that once supported healthy cattle on healthy grassland but currently lies more or less abandoned; several species of invasive plants had crowded out the native grasses, leaving nothing for animals to eat and also leaving much of the soil exposed to erosion. This summer, ecological restoration students from the University of Montana will work at this site, trying out various strategies to help the land recover.

Recently, the students visited the land to see how it had come through the winter. One elk, at least, did not do well; perhaps weakened by the cold and the poor fodder in the ruined grassland, it was apparently attacked and eaten by hungry predators. The bones looked fresh but were stripped clean.