12 Favorite Photos from 2013

January Mountain lion kittens sit cautiously behind their mother in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. (Mike Cavaroc)
Mountain lion kittens sit cautiously behind their mother in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

Certainly one of the most exciting moments of the year was when I found myself sharing a trail with cougars. This was not just the first time I had ever seen wild cougars, it was the first time I had ever seen wild cats at all. The excitement I felt in the moment was overwhelming, and equally was the disappointment when they began to run away. Taking ample time to fully immerse myself in the scene, and not just grab a few shots, it became a defining moment that I will not soon forget.

February A coyote quietly sneaks through snow and sagebrush in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. (Mike Cavaroc)
A coyote quietly sneaks through snow and sagebrush in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.

Yellowstone always provides a great getaway during the winter. Plenty of wildlife scours the blanket of snow for traces of food during the harsh winters, much of it unconcerned if a road crosses its path.
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Fighting Light Pollution in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

The Milky Way Galaxy arches above Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Grand Teton National Park. (Mike Cavaroc)
Light pollution spills into the night sky from various area of Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

For millenia now, humans have gazed up at the night sky in search of answers, clarity, and self-awareness. The night sky has always been a treasure chest of wonderment and puzzles, revealing clues not just about our past as a race, but about ourselves as well. Today, the fascination that a dark sky provides has given way to urban sprawl and modern conveniences, consistently keeping us disconnected from finding real meaning in our lives. Our historical amazement at a dark, night sky has now become nothing more than a faded photograph in our increasingly distant past. Dark skies have become a rarity not just in America, but in every developed nation, and are continuing to fade into the abyss of quite often, unnecessary illumination.

Fortunately, there are those who are willing to put everything they have into preserving the few dark skies we have left.
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Fixing the Economy While Relieving Predator Tension

A bison walks through the grasslands of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota. (Mike Cavaroc)
A bison walks through the grasslands of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota.

The American West is currently in a state of tensioned flux. The Old West built the foundation for the very land that we have come to love so much. The New West is trying to alter it in ways that upsets much of what The Old West was founded on. Both sides ignite angst in the other. The Old West cares about the land in its own way, wanting to preserve the land for ranching and recreation that founded the landscapes. Meanwhile, The New West wants to conserve everything, leaving The Old West wondering where there would be room for ranching. One solution could be simpler than we realize.

What people love about the American West is that there is still plenty of open space inspiring everyone who visits or who is fortunate enough to call a western region home.
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Finding What You Love on the Road

Polar Bear in Snow Storm
A polar bear stands in willow bushes during a snow storm in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada.

My first leg of this trip was spent in the vast, open prairie expanses of Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan. The days consistently offered nothing more than gray skies, harsh winds, and biting cold mornings. I spent a bit of one of the later afternoons at the badlands of the east block when I immediately became ready to make an early departure for either Moose Mountain or Duck Mountain Provincial Parks. I ultimately decided to wait out the drive for one more night.

Upon awakening the next morning, I saw the moon shining brightly over one horizon and to the other, early daylight cresting the hills. Eager to exploit a potentially clear sunrise, I preformed a quick morning routine, got dressed, and stepped outside only to find that there would be no sunrise.
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Rewilding the Earth and Human Evolution


George Monbiot speaks about the rewilding process at a TED conference and why it is so essential that we begin to take it seriously.
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In a brilliantly fantastic TED talk, George Monbiot breaks down the trophic cascade from the gray wolf and even takes it a step further as he cites other examples of ecosystems where similar effects have been lost. He then proceeds to discuss the "rewilding" process, a process by which we follow the Yellowstone wolf example and begin to reestablish ecosystems that have long since been decimated. One way or another, however, nature will once and for all force us into learning to coexist with it.

During the last century, humanity has had an extraordinary leap in its awareness and consciousness. Long gone are the days where it was standard practice to kill animals that got in your way or even met you on the trail.
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How to Turn Innocent Wolves Into Public Enemies

The gray wolf, 755M, licks his mouth after eating on a carcass in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. (Mike Cavaroc)
The gray wolf, 755M, licks his mouth after eating on a carcass in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park.

On Monday, August 19 of 2013, shocking news was reported that the Pine Creek Pack of wolves was held responsible for the deaths of 176 domestic sheep the weekend prior. The reports coming out were startling, and rightfully so. It wound up becoming the largest death of sheep in Idaho’s history. Most news outlets reported that the wolves caused it and it was case closed. Consequently, 13 wolves in the pack, nine of them pups, were put to death and the pileup was left out to lure in other predators to their death as well. The incident may be true and it may not be. The fact is there is a deeper story underneath the surface that begs to be explored.
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