Friday, June 3, 2011

American Bison

A couple of hundred years ago when the European settlers moved in across the center of North America they found immense herds of Bison. Like great seas these herds are estimated to have contained an where for 20 to 60 million animals. Unfortunately due to unregulated hunting in the 1870s and 1880s the bison population fell from the millions down to about 1091 by 1889.

Today most bison have been cross bread with cows and live as livestock on private ranches. A few natural free roaming herds do still exists the largest is the Yellowstone Park Bison herd which numbers around 3,500 animals. Since they are the largest land mammal in North America and since they are known to be a bit temperamental bison usually have the right of way, even when they are crossing a bridge.

Bison usually move while they eat so that they do not over graze an area. In Yellowstone there are areas where the road or a bridge are the only way over or through a pass in between mountains so the bison will use the road or bridge to travel. This can end up backing up traffic quite a ways.
Of course chewing on prairie grasses while marching along and often dodging cars can be very tiring work. So when they arrive at a nice green pasture the bison usually leave the road to find a cool spot to nap.
When we arrived most of the bison calves had already been born. Bison begin to calf in April. The female bison will find a spot away from the herd to birth her calf. The calf will be able to stand and walk shortly after it is born. The female will keep the calf away from the herd for a couple of more days and then calf and mother will rejoin the herd. In case of danger the adults will surround the young ones and protect them. Several 900 to 2000 pound animals with sharp horns and hard hoofs are good protection against predators.


Cher' Shots said...

As we traveled to and from Alaska we used to see a wild roaming herd in the Delta Junciton area and also in the Lairds Hot Spring area of Canada. They are an awesome animal. Thanks for sharing.

GW Bill Miller said...

The Tallgrass Prairie Preserve just north of Pawhuska, Oklahoma has a free roaming herd of buffalo that numbers more than 2,500. Bison are rounded up each fall and the excess numbers sold.

There is another smaller herd of several hundred in the Woolaroc Wildlife Preserve west of Bartlesville, Oklahoma.

Wikipedia has good articles on both the Wildlife Prairie, and for Woolaroc.

lotusleaf said...

Very interesting post. We have wild bison in India, which have white socks and sharp, pointed horns. There are herds of bison in the Nagarhole Tiger reserve, which protect their calves against the tiger by surrounding the calves.

HOOTIN' ANNI said...

Yellowstone has the 'pure' buffalo yet. These photos are super. Love the one with the little calf.

Baby Herons and a Tern Chick is my Saturday post.

Do come over and say howdy if you can find time in your day!! Your visit will make me a happy camper!!! Have a great weekend.

Snap said...

What a wonderful post. To see the bison and have them have the right of way ... seems only right! Happy Critter Day!

Kay L. Davies said...

Wonderful photos. I love the young ones being protected by the herd in the second picture. The adults are not going to let them get hit by those big scary machine-animals.
— K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

ladyfi said...

Oh my, they are so adorable when resting!

Jidhu Jose said...

beautiful shots

My Entry For Camera Critters

anemonen said...

Beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing.

JayLeigh said...

It's incredible that you saw so many wonderful animals! Really great post and pictures.

JayLeigh said...

Oops! I forgot that I looked at two posts of yours. lol That comment was meant for the post about Yellowstone. I love the info about and pics of the bison, too!

Dave said...

I love the give way to bison on the bridge photo, brilliant. The one with the little calf is lovely too. Dave at photoviews