Winter in Montana: Part 2

» Posted by on Feb 13, 2013 in Featured, Montana

The second part of the series is going to focus on the “big cats” (and some horses) [link to part 1]. We were lucky and we got to photograph a mountain lion, a snow leopard and my favorite: the amur leopard.

The mountain lion (a.k.a. cougar or puma) is a big cat. Its thinner profile makes it a very dangerous predator.

The cougar (Puma concolor), also known as the puma, mountain lion, panther, or catamount. It was suddenly very interested by us...

The cougar (Puma concolor), also known as the puma, mountain lion, panther, or catamount. It was suddenly very interested by us…

The snow leopard (Panthera uncia or Uncia uncia) is a beautiful animal. The total estimated population is 4,080–6,590. It  is classified as globally Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Snow leopard in winter

Snow leopard in winter

Snow leopard in winter

Snow leopard in winter

snow leopard in snow

snow leopard in snow

The Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) is extremely rare, the last data I could find states that only 14–20 adults and 5–6 cubs were counted in a census in 2007 [link]. It is classified as Critically Endangered since 1996 by IUCN. This particular Amur leopard is only 8 months old.

young Amur leopard in winter

Amur leopard in winter

Amur leopard in the snow

Amur leopard in the snow

Winter is the best time of the year to photograph the winter leopards as their fur is fully grown to resist the cold. We were shooting far past sunrise (around 10 a.m.) and it was still only around 20F/-6C. The leopards were playing in the snow and their fur made them all puffy and cute.

It was pretty impressive to have them that close to us (sometimes only a few feet away and the lens would not focus, darn!). Although the Amur leopard was only  8 months old, its paws were almost as big as my head.

We also got to visit the Barn W ranch, close to Whitefish, MT where they raise horses. The last image is a horse roundup in the middle of the winter.

Horses round up in montana

Horses round up in montana

If you have not yet figure it out, all those animals are captive animals, specially trained for photography or film-making. The ranch that has been our host is the Triple D game farm.
In the last installment of our trip to Triple D, we will give you all the details and our opinions.

All the images presented here are available for licensing or as fine art prints.