We are now at the third in the series of Yellowstone (and Custer State Park) Ungulates… and if I remember correctly this will be the last in the set (unfortunately no moose were to be found on this trip). Similar to the Wapiti in the previous post (link here), these beasts are so large they have two names. Using once again my staple for all things researchy, I headed over to Wikipedia to get some details on these once common roamers of the Great Plains. Surprising to me, the name I usually use for them, Bison, is actually a newer name than Buffalo. I would have bet all my Double Jeopardy money on the reverse. This particular Bison appears upset that I didn’t know that.
Bison actually comes from the Greek work for ox-like (originating around 1635). On the other hand, the name Buffalo comes to us from French fur traders in the 1774 timeframe. Strangely enough, they failed to give the name Native Americans used for one of their dominant food sources. What appears to be one of those tragedies from a lack of conservation principles, these animals definitely took a hit from hunting practices (skin market driven more than food source) which just about drove them to extinction – Wikipedia also indicates that this was a US Army endorsed activity in order to impact the Native Indian living conditions. The good news is conservation efforts have been bringing them back and now listed as near threatened.
Linda and I have had the privilege of photographing these creatures at three wonderful places. You can fill all your digital cards up with Bison shots at either Yellowstone National Park or Custer State Park. They are so abundant there you eventually start ignoring them about halfway into the trip. I always joke that trips there start out with “oh oh a Bison” proceed to “wow, look at that one over there”, then “eh, let’s keep driving” and finally “hey, get the hell of the road so we can get to the wolves!” Now in truth, we may progress through this transition to disinterest at a faster rate than most. We actually live about 10 minutes from Wildlife Prairie Park which has a very nice collection of Bison and other native animals to the Great Plains. You can read more about that park on a previous post (link here). (looks like I already used the two name bit on that previous post – looks like I need to get some original material.)
Here is one of the local residents of Custer State Park.
Hit the jump to see the rest of the Bison collection.