Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bison Are Still Home on the Range - And Yellowstone

This past weekend I traveled to Helena, Montana (46°35N, 112°W) and later to both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. In these regions Bison are celebrated just four degrees north of the 42N latitude.

In Helena, I saw this sheet metal weather vane (now part of the Montana Historical Society) which was created in 1855 for Fort Benton's American Fur Company's trading post on the Missouri River. Apparently the vane was a favorite shooting target.

While the mammoth shaggy creature is celebrated as a food source and a cultural symbol they can be seen roaming Yellowstone in natural settings albeit with loads of tourists watching them watching us.On Saturday while treking from the west entrance (West Yellowstone, MT) to the south entrance (north of Jackson, WY) on National Park free access weekend we happened on a number of cars that had parked off road. About 30 people gathered to see a small herd of bison work their way down river eating grass. Two park rangers were present to make sure people didn't interfere with the bison migration.

Undaunted by the herd's enormously large bull buffalo sitting nearby in the grass behind the tree in this photo, a tourist approached the bull to get an extreme close photo opportunity. Fortunately the ranger stopped the photographer who was oblivious to the inherent danger to him, the herd and the rest of the guests. Know that.