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Bleary-eyed, I reached the Yellowstone National Park at daybreak. The previous night I had had a surreal dream of roaming the snowscape with a solitary bison – each respecting the other’s privacy. At the crack of dawn, I trudged in knee-deep snow, with the image of the bison like a lost memory…
Having been here on multiple occasions, my muse for this trip had been the formidable beast. A North American species that once roamed the lands in vast herds. An animal that also happens to be the national animal of America. My goal was to capture black and white bison pictures. These bison pictures would be a valuable addition to my series of wildlife framed pictures.
Protecting the Bison
These resilient creatures once covered the Great Plains and most of North America, and were of prime importance to the Native Americans as their most important natural asset. This was long before the mass slaughter of the bison by European settlers that began in the 1800s. During this time, settlers killed some 50 million bison for food and sport. The once enormous herds were reduced to only a few hundred animals. Today, bison numbers have rebounded somewhat. About 500,000 bison live on preserves and ranches where they are raised for their meat.
The conservation community has put in a great deal of effort to bison conservation over the last decade, helping to bring back the national animal of America. The bison is considered ecologically extinct as there are no longer millions of animals migrating across the plains.
However, conservation herds of 1,000 or more bison are being established to create a metapopulation, allowing for the species to once again play an important ecological role on the prairie grasslands.
As the national animal of America, bison have been an integral species. They have helped create a habitat for many other species belonging to the unforgiving Great Plains. Some of these include birds and plant species. On their search for food, they aerate the soil with their hooves, aiding plant growth and dispersion of native seeds. This helps to maintain a healthy and well-balanced ecosystem.
Surviving the Cold
As the weather grows cold and inhospitable, bison develop a thick, woolly coat that helps protect them against the harsh winds and sub-zero temperatures. This ruffled mass of fur is said to be so thick and provides insulation so effective that snow does not melt from the body heat of the bison, once collected on it. In addition to this, the skin thickens and fatty deposits appear to further insulate the animal. These survival mechanisms are essential during winter storms. With berating winds and high wind chill factors, the bison turn towards the storm, hunker down and wait for it to pass. These big and powerful animals can survive the same storm that would kill many other domestic livestock. Bison also have the ability to use their large head and massive neck and shoulder muscles as snow plows to forage in the snow that can be deep as four feet.
A Surreal Encounter
On spotting this hunky brown (now white covered in snow) mass of fur, I got off my vehicle and trudged in knee-deep snow to get a closer look at this massive animal. He must have been standing in this same spot and position through the night, as there were no trail marks or fresh snow around him. I was about 20 ft away, rapidly clicking my bison pictures. With the cicada of the shutter disturbing his sanity, the bison lifted his head and looked me in the eye. I could now see his big black eyeballs that reflected the white landscape around. A look that said, “back off.” I heard him loud and clear. I looked around me. I was waist-deep in snow. It occurred to me that if this bison decided to charge at me, I would have no way to run and defend myself.
Standing frozen in my tracks, I did not know what my next move would be. Thankfully, this bison was unable to find more food and also ended up wandering off in the other direction. This allowed me to slowly trudge back to my car with bison pictures for my series of wildlife framed pictures.
WILDLIFE AND BISON PICTURES BLOG
Our black and white animal pictures are captured everywhere between the North Pole all the way down to southern Chile, they add a sophisticated, luxurious vibe to any art gallery, home, and also office. When a viewer gets up close and personal to our black and white photos, it’s easy to become flooded with emotions like inspiration, motivation and positive energy. Perfect for cultivating a relaxing, zen atmosphere. This beautiful contemporary fine art comes to life in museum quality life-size prints. We showcase our black and white animal pictures with great pride and also a commitment to creating wildlife awareness…VIEW MORE ON OUR BLOG
View the Yellowstone Bison Short Film
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