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National Geographic Features MT Prairie on 'Yellowstone Live' Project

Tonight's episode of "Yellowstone Live" features burrowing owls on the American Prairie Reserve. (Dennis J. Lingohr/American Prairie Reserve)
Tonight's episode of "Yellowstone Live" features burrowing owls on the American Prairie Reserve. (Dennis J. Lingohr/American Prairie Reserve)
June 25, 2019

BOZEMAN, Mont. — An ambitious project from National Geographic is returning to Yellowstone National Park this week, and also will feature Montana's prairie. "Yellowstone Live" is a four-night special from the renowned science organization featuring live crews stationed across the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and the American Prairie Reserve.

Daniel Kinka is a wildlife restoration manager with American Prairie Reserve. He said the grasslands near the Missouri Breaks often are overlooked, compared with Yellowstone and the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, but the three ecosystems share a lot of connections.

Kinka thinks it's an honor that National Geographic is putting a spotlight on the prairie.

"The platform that they have to be able to tell good conservation stories is just unparalleled, and so we're very happy to be working with them, but also to be mentioned in the same breath as Yellowstone is really special,” Kinka said. “American Prairie Reserve's kind of the third ecosystem in Montana that gets forgotten about."

National Geographic is partnering with the American Prairie Reserve on its Last Wild Places initiative, which aims to conserve wild places that sustain life on Earth and has a goal of protecting 30% of the planet by 2030. Montana's reserve is one of the largest intact grasslands remaining in the world.

"Yellowstone Live" airs at 7 p.m. Mountain time through Wednesday.

A relocation of prairie dogs to the reserve was featured on Sunday's episode. On Monday, wildlife experts darted one of the reserve's 950 bison and fitted it with a "Bison Cam." Kinka said tonight he will be capturing and collaring burrowing owls.

"It's a very small owl that actually lives in old prairie dog holes,” he said. “And so, we've got a burrowing owl expert out here, and he's going to help us capture and then band, so we can ID these burrowing owls going forward. And people will be able to see that live on TV as well."

"Yellowstone Live" also features a look into a beaver den, eagle's nest and footage of newborn elk, cougars and grizzly bears.

Disclosure: American Prairie Reserve contributes to our fund for reporting on Endangered Species & Wildlife, Public Lands/Wilderness, Sustainable Agriculture. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - MT