This spring the bison became the ‘national mammal’ of the United States. I don’t think they could have made a better choice, and since I’ve just come back from watching many, many bison I thought I’d just let my thoughts about bison meander a little.
Bison are such awesome creatures, well deserving of their new honor. Sad to say I have to agree with Ben Franklin when he lamented the choice of a bald eagle as our national bird. It’s a handsome creature, but well known for having a special fondness for carrion and fish. Bison, on the other hand, are a big magnificent symbol of our American West and far more interesting than when seen at first glance.
All too often ‘first glance of a bison’ in Yellowstone is a herd plodding down the road, blocking traffic. When we are lucky, the delay in only a few minutes and gives everyone an up close peek at the huge beasties. Dale and I have been delayed 45 minutes because the bison were crossing the long bridge just east of Mammoth. The bison were heading west and we wanted to go east. When we returned in the evening, bison were on the bridge again. Another 45 minutes passed while they headed east and we wanted to go west.
The worst bison jam I ever saw was just before Memorial Day a year ago. A small herd had stopped traffic just when cars were pouring into the park for the weekend. We were heading out of the park and got past the small herd without any difficulty, but cars coming in were literally bumper to bumper for miles – literally miles! Traffic was moving so slowly that many people got out of their cars and walked ahead while one person stayed with their car to inch forward.