Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Yellowstone - Part Five - Even more Bison

It was only when I was going to write a post about something else that I realized that I missed out on more bison photos and stories.  So here we are again.  One our first short hike, we stopped by a bison skeleton that was from last September.  I believe it was an older bison and as part of the wolf tracking program, the researchers take bone marrow samples of carcasses to determine the health of the now dead animal.  I don't envy the researchers as they have to visit the carcass as soon as two weeks after the kill.  Quite smelly and I'm sure still frequented by predators. 
A frequent site in Yellowstone is the ever present bison scat.  It's everywhere.  Similar to cow pies and these seem to persist for awhile.  This one was stamped with a bison print.  They should consider marketing this as a souvenir to tourists.
Stamp of approval
Once you learn what these black unvegetated marks are bison wallows, they too are everywhere.  Bison wallows are shallow depressions.  They roll in them and cover themselves in mud.  This helps with bugs, shedding, and cooling themselves.  I'm also told that the males pee in them and then roll and cover in mud and then they make a horrific noise that only be compared to something you'd see on WWE.  This is during the rut and I can't speak for the lady bison, but I very much doubt that they consider this as attractive. I can picture the eye rolling as this goes on.  

On the last day and hours of the tour, it seemed that the land was sending us off in full style.  The bison were much more numerous than I had ever seen in Lamar Valley and Soda Butte Creek.  For me it was a personal reminder of what it might have resembled during the glory days.  When you feel the thunder of the running bison before you'd see them.  When they would be as far as you could see.  Before 1492 and according to Wikipedia, they numbered 60,000,000 and in 2000 they numbered 360,000.  I don't know if I could even fathom what that would really look and feel like.  Keep in mind that the range of bison back then reached extreme western New Jersey and to mid-California and most everything in between. 

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