"A Sand County Almanac"

"THERE ARE SOME WHO CAN LIVE WITHOUT WILD THINGS AND SOME WHO CANNOT."
"FOR US IN THE MINORITY THE OPPORTUNITY TO SEE GEESE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN TELEVISION.".....Aldo Leopold




"LOOK DEEP INTO NATURE, AND THEN YOU WILL UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING BETTER".....Albert Einstein


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Bison of Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks


The bison is probably the most iconic animal associated with the West.  It is seen frequently by visitors to both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.  It is often called a "buffalo", probably due to the use of this name in western genre movies since the beginning of the motion picture industry.  Because they can be seen in such large numbers many people don't take the time to look closely at individual animals and observe their interesting behavior.

Bulls can exceed 2,000 pounds in exceptional cases.  Cows are much smaller as demonstrated by the following photo of a mature bull and a young cow...


The next photo shows bison peacefully grazing with the Teton mountain range in the background...

 
When alarmed bison can run 35 to 40 miles per hour. I found this running group in the Lamar Valley.
 

We observed this group early one foggy morning as they moved along the Yellowstone River to a new grazing area...



A bison, overlooking the Hayden Valley, is in the process of shedding its winter coat...


Bison are among the most dangerous animals in the parks.  Each year tourists are injured because they approach too closely. Signs warning of this danger are posted throughout the parks and the issue is featured in the literature provided to each visitor upon entry.  Still, the message is often ignored...



 
 
 
Educating the public to respect wildlife is the key to keeping both safe.

Bison and cowbirds have a symbiotic relationship as the birds help rid the bison of insects and lice...




Dust baths, called "wallowing", also help bison to rid themselves of parasites and to loosen their winter coats for shedding. 


Many believe wallowing plays a role in male to male interaction during the rut...

                                                                                                                                                      Whatever the reason, it is very common...


The young bison, known as "calves" are always popular with visitors...

 
I had the feeling that these two were whispering about me...
 

Bison learn from an early age that they control the roads and that traffic must yield to them...


 
The calf in the next photo is nursing from an unfortunate position, with predictable results...
 


The rut, or breeding season, was just beginning while we were in the parks.  In the next photos bulls are using a flehmen response to determine how soon the cows will be ready to breed...

 
 
There is a sign in the Hayden Valley explaining the rut to visitors.  I found this bison standing beside the sign as though it was ready to answer questions...


Combat between bulls can be very intense, sometimes resulting in fatal injuries...




I spotted this bull with very short horns in the Lamar Valley.  I don't know if he participated in the fights for breeding rights or not...

 

We found this bull near Kelly where large numbers of bison were gathering...


Bison use their massive heads to move snow aside so they can graze during winter...


Bison are interesting animals that have played an important role in the history of our country and an even more important role for the people who were here before Europeans arrived.

As always, thanks for visiting, be well, and come back soon.




2 comments:

  1. Beautiful bison photos.

    Never ceases to amaze me how utterly stupid people can be around wildlife.

    ReplyDelete

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