One of the coolest things about Yellowstone is the bison.
In the early 1800's, an estimated 65 million bison roamed throughout the continent of North America. However, hunting and
poaching had a devastating effect on the bison population; and by 1890, fewer than 1,000 remained! Even with the
establishment of Yellowstone National Park, protection and sanctuary for the bison did not occur until the U.S. Army arrived in
1886 to protect the park's resources.
The bison (often incorrectly referred to as buffalo) is truly a majestic animal. An adult bull bison may be six feet tall at the
shoulder and weigh 2,000 pounds.
Bison in Yellowstone face special challenges as the snow can be deep as it was this year, and the bison must dig through the
snow to find grass. There natural habitat on the plains is now all gone to them.
Bison dig through the snow with their heads, moving their heads back and forth. This is the reason for the hump on their
backs--muscle to give them the strength to move the snow with their heads.
Bison move in groups as it makes it easier to move through the snow by following the tracks of the lead bison.
Bison frequently use the roads to move from one location to another. The introduction of snowmobiles made it easier for them
to use the groomed roads and has helped their survival.
Below is just a portion of a herd of Elk we saw coming into Gardiner outside the park.
Inside the park in the Lamar Valley there are many elk. They must wade through deep snow to find food.