Friday, July 31, 2009
The bison of Yellowstone now number in the thousands because of effective herd management programs. This is amazing considering the population was on fifty at the turn of the century. The calves were everywhere, as were the bison. In fact, they were often right outside our cabin at Canyon Village, or blocking the entrance or exit to the parking lots. It gave a false sense of security about how approachable they seemed.
At one point we had to laugh because we had just passed a car jam and people standing at the side of the road to get a glimpse and picture of a bison way across a huge meadow. If they had only gone around the bend they would have been stopped as the bison crossed the road and stopped traffic in both directions. It was not uncommon to see these huge beautiful animals lumber peacefully across the path or be resting, as one giant beast, right outside the toilet at the parking lot for the Lower Falls. People were leaning down close to the animal's face to get pictures and who knows what. I did not want to stay around to see.
I think lots of folks don't take them seriously as wild animals because they seem to saunter along like cows. But the truth is that bison kill more folks than moose or bear. The other time we visited the area our hot air balloon pilot told us a story about how a father put his toddler on the back of a bison to get a picture. Fortunately, the child was not hurt. But then the man mounted and the bison threw him off and injured him.