Monday, January 7, 2008

Bison

We saw a few bison herds of cows and calves, as well as lone bull bison or small bachelor groups. We saw bison throughout Yellowstone, above where we saw elk. Pictured here is a herd we found in a meadow, as well as a close up of an individual. The bison move snow out of the way with their big heads, moving them side to side like shovels. Their coats get matted with snow and they stand in bitter cold winds with snow blowing and just look sort of hunkered down. These are tough animals, no question.

The most upsetting thing I saw in the park was a baby bison, a calf less than a year old, which was on the side of the road. It appeared to have been hit by a vehicle, but it wasn't dead yet. It had a ruptured gut and a wound on it's side that was round, like on the hip bone, but a clean round circle not a tear or a bite. There was a rumor wolves injured the bison and were chased off, but it appeared to me to be a human inflicted injury. The calf was suffering and looked me in the eye. I really wanted to put it out of its misery. I made sure the rangers knew about it, but with limited resources dispatching injured animals doesn't seem to be a high priority.

That was upsetting on many levels. Every safari in Africa I see animal suffering I can't stop, and I recognize they have next to no resources at all, so as much as I hate it, I understand. But here in the U.S., in our National Parks, I expect a higher standard of care for the animals. I recognize that we shouldn't interfere with nature and predator kills and I am fine with that. But when we humans inflict suffering on an animal through a vehicle accident or other event, I believe we should have a policy of making it a priority to put the animal out of its misery. Predators and scavengers will do the rest, but we don't have any excuse for letting an animal lie in misery for hours and dying a slow and excruciating death.

Also, the speed and idiocy of people in the park (many of whom just stop on the road to look at something with no regard to traffic) is astounding. There should be a hefty fine for hitting an animal, and that should be well advertised so that people are more cautious. Supposedly 26 bears were killed by cars last year in Yellowstone. Not to mention the elk, bison, coyotes, deer and whatever else was in the way.

1 comment:

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