Landmark is ASC’s groundbreaking project to provide “boots on the ground” support for the American Prairie Reserve management team. Wildlife survey crews consist of skilled outdoors men and women who live and work on Montana’s northern Great Plains, collecting data that informs APR’s conservation management decisions.
By Sofia Haagberg
Waking up at 1:45 a.m. to the sound of howling coyotes, the night still warm, the mosquitoes manageable. Getting straight into the car, eyes itching with lack of sleep, wondering, ‘why am I doing this?’
Remembering the excitement, feeling my whole body tense while seeing the black-footed ferret and her two kits again. A beautiful, fascinating animal, so close to extinction, so worthy of protection. So lucky to spend a few minutes just watching her.
Onward with life. Walking Transect 7, teaching the new Australian guy to record data, watching a group of mule deer grazing near a bison skull on the hard, dry prairie ground. Hiking 10 miles, sweating like an overweight wrestler in a winter coat under the beating sun.
Hiking by the Missouri River and looking at fossils, swimming in Fort Peck reservoir, the evening a bit cooler with clouds forming and wind building.
Driving back to Buffalo Camp, getting the car stuck in the prairie’s infamous gumbo mud. Trying halfhearted to get it out and acquiring a mean number of 50 mosquito bites on part of each calf. Getting towed out by the crew of biologists. Ending the day after sunset with a potluck dinner and new friends.
Sofia Haagberg loves challenges, new experiences and the feeling of doing something important. As a Scandinavian, some of those days on the prairie felt extremely hot to her.