American Bison

The most visible large animal in Yellowstone National Park is the American bison (Bison bison). I would see many of these large grazers in all parts of Yellowstone but I hoped to see this emblematic animal in the snow, and I didn’t have long to wait.

When I first entered Yellowstone from the south, it began to snow, the first real snow of the season.

The first snow of the trip, just as I entered the southern boundary of America’s first National Park. The National Park Service arrowhead (on the right) features a sequoia tree and a bison to represent wildlife.

I drove north into Yellowstone along the road towards West Thumb, the snow falling but not yet sticking to the pavement. At the junction I headed west and then north towards the ever popular Old Faithful geyser. After I passed Old Faithful, the road was paralleled by the Firehole River. Up ahead a few cars were pulled over. I soon learned to stop because this always meant there was something interesting to see near the road. Could it be a bison, bear, or bald eagle? How about a bison in the snow? Check.

American bison in the snow on the banks of the Firehole River.

A few days later, when I was on a wolf hunt in the Lamar Valley I came upon a ranch: the Lamar Buffalo Ranch. The American bison was close to being hunted to extinction in the United States. In the late 19th century, poachers where hunting bison in Yellowstone and only 40 bison remained. In 1907 the Lamar Buffalo Ranch was founded with the mission of protecting and increasing the bison herd in Yellowstone. The ranch was in operation until 1952. Because of these efforts there are now about 2,000 free roaming bison in Yellowstone.

The entrance to the now closed Lamar Buffalo Ranch in the Lamar Valley, Northeastern Yellowstone, Wy.

A Yellowstone traffic jam. The bison always have the right of way.

 

 

 

 

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