Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Trip Across America--No Wonder Buffalo--They Are Really Bison-- Didn't Do So Well...

It used to be, back in the 50s when I first went to Yellowstone National Park, that you couldn't drive more than a couple miles without bears on the road causing a traffic jam while people stopped to take pictures as the bears came to the car windows to beg for anything you might throw them to eat. I have to admit that it was before the days of thinking much about the health of the animals and the problems that were emerging. Yes, I threw Bit-O-Honeys to bears.

Well, bears have been replaced by buffalo, or American bison. They are back in numbers, at least in the park. People don't seem to throw hay at them. Here's a link with lots of information.

They hang out in groups--I believe they are called "herds"--with the old bulls clearly in charge, but the young ones starting to be feisty. We saw some bison pawing to make a dust wallow that they then rolled in and seemed to take a lot of pleasure in the act. We didn't notice anyone urinating in their wallow which I've heard bulls will do if they feel threatened. The wallows also serve other purposes such as creating pockets where water collects.

We did get to see them up close and personal. They grunt and snort a lot and they don't really smell that good. Apparently the grunting is the way they socialize with each other. Come to think of it, we didn't see any of them at other watering holes.

Here are some more enjoying a day at the beach of Yellowstone Lake.

And, lest we forget, here's what they were almost annihilated (supposedly 541 animals left in 1888) for--buffalo hides (I wonder how they got rid of the smell). People died, buffalo died, a culture almost died, and the face of the Plains was changed, maybe for a long, long time. But, maybe not if Ted Turner has his way. He owns 2 million acres (that's 3,125 square miles--about the size of Delaware and Rhode Island put together) and he has 50,000 bison. If Ted turns them loose and says "Go!", don't be in the way. They're big, they can jump 6 feet high and 7 feet forward, and they run fast.

1 comment:

Ronna said...

Okay, so those Buffalo are pretty amazing!! WOW!!!