Saturday, September 10, 2016

Wildlife abounds

So many different examples of wildlife live within the bounds of Yellowstone. In many instances, we'd spot them because the side of the road would be lined up with cars, people in and out of their vehicles, clicking with cameras and phones. I admit, I was certainly one of them, or I wouldn't have managed the above shot of the bear climbing down from the tree he'd been in (although yes, I stayed in the truck and used my zoom).

Still, there were many times we'd just watch as the animals grazed or strolled about.

In some ways, the elk were the ones that made me saddest. They'd obviously grown so accustomed to humans, they gathered in the town of Mammoth (on Yellowstone's north side) and lay around beside the buildings, taking advantage of the shade. Although there were many warning signs to keep one's distance, many foolish souls ventured (I thought) too near. With all that forest and grassland about, it was downright weird to see them lolling about on lawn.

The nearby town of Gardiner had antelope grazing on its high school football field. I suppose they keep the grass down nicely, but clearly, they too were accustomed to humans. There's something about this intersection of people with wildlife that makes me wonder who will win out. Somehow, as I consider coyotes, raccoons, deer -- and even bears -- who keep 'invading' what we like to think of as 'our' space, I question whose space is whose, or can land really ever be claimed by anyone?

To me, the most majestic of the animals were the bison. Whether they were standing atop the crest of hill, or simply grazing in a grassy field, they are such a powerful reminder of what this continent looked like not even 200 years ago.

Our luckiest viewing of them was one where we were (for quite a few minutes) the only people who'd spotted a small herd of them attempting to ford the Yellowstone River.
The bull who was obviously their leader watched from the shore as a group swam out into the river. Although I couldn't hear it, he apparently gave some sign and, as one, the herd turned back. Soon after, they set out from a spot slightly further north on the shore and this time, they managed to make it. Quite the sight, and one I will long remember -- almost enough to make me think I might be living in the 1800s and not the techno-2000s.
After they crossed the river, we thought we might have seen the best of Yellowstone, so again, we moved on -- this time, into South Dakota.

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