Intern: Bessie Gondwe
Ranch: The Nature Conservancy—Heart Mountain Ranch Preserve
Bessie is taking pre-veterinarian classes at Northwest College. She was born in Sweden, moved to Zambia when she was 5, and then back to Sweden with she was 16. She chose Wyoming because she was interested in the abundant nature and affordable education opportunities.
WEEK 1and 2
“The first day was mainly a tour of the ranch and a short explanation to what I will be working with. I got to see how the irrigation system works and I learnt about the two herds of cattle that are being taken care of at the moment. It wasn’t long before we had to get to work, I helped with the fencing project the first two days which was already in progress. We were removing the barbed wired fences because it has caused injury to some of the Elks, Deer and Antelopes that have travelled through the Heart Mountain ranch. Instead of barbed wire they are trying to replace it with fibre wires. Fibre wires are more flexible and can therefore create a good stretch making it easy for animals to go through especially the younger ones. The fibre wires also work as an electric fence to keep the cattle within their grazing areas. I learnt that Elk for example have fur that protect them more from the electric shock compared to cattle, and so they will ignore it whereas cows will learn not to trespass. Fencing is one of the main things that I worked with because the cows tend to destroy them every now and then. In some situations calves would fall into the canal and get separated from the herd of cattle. I was proud to lead them around the hill and successfully reunited one of the calves with it’s “mom”. I practiced moving the other group of cattle into new grazing land by whistling. There is a grazing rotation done so that the grass has time to grow back out, to be watered and grazed on.
Apart from that I have worked with invasive species. Hounds Tongue is poisonous to cattle and horses so we once went out to remove them from the grazing land. I also got to work with Eric Atkinson when he came over to do bird banding. We put up nests and caught birds. The birds were then measured and weighed and banded for registration. That way the main bird banding centers can keep track of the birds.
One thing I didn’t know about where the wilds horses that Wyoming has and I got privileged to drive out to see them. There is a lot to learn but that one day told be enough about how they live out in the wild. I look forward to sending you more information about what I have been doing.”