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Featured Image: Elk, Yellowstone National Park
Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony, 11 July 2019
Some random reading, quotations and thoughts on wolves, bears and wildlife in Yellowstone National Park and the Western USA
Introduction to Yellowstone National Park
We embarked on a tour of Western USA National Parks. Something I had wanted to do for years. We departed from Bozeman, Montana on 9 May 2019 our first stop was Yellowstone National Park, which is mostly in Wyoming with a small northern part in Montana. The park was just opening for the season and in some areas roads were still closed by snow.
Yellowstone is often referred to as the first national park in the world in 1872 (actually there was an earlier one in Mongolia). As well as the wildlife Yellowstone is situated on a vast caldera with the magma not far below the surface and has wonderful thermal attractions that rival New Zealand’s. The volcanic National Park of Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu, in New Zealand established in 1894, which I wrote about earlier, is now the 6th oldest national park.
One forgets how early conservation efforts in the late 19th and early twentieth century led to the establishment of a network of wonderful national parks across the USA.
We saw most of the wildlife on our trip in Yellowstone National Park. On our second day, we headed out at dawn with a wildlife guide, who was very knowledgeable, to view as much as we could see of the wildlife.
In two and a half days we saw endless ungulates including bison, elk, white-tailed deer, mule deer and big-horned sheep. The female bison had just given birth and we saw a multitude of baby bison, colloquially called ‘red dogs’ according to our tour guide Steve.
We also saw raptors: bald eagles, ospreys and red-tailed hawks, also a great horned owl near the park headquarters and other birds. On our wildlife tour saw two adult wolves and a juvenile near their den and several groups of coyotes, including three feasting on the carcase of a dead bison. We viewed a female grizzly and her two cubs for an hour on a hillside opposite. We used spotting scopes for a good clear view of all these animals. I also took some photographs with my new Panasonic bridge camera but they were blurry.
We spent some time too watching another grizzly and saw single black bears on two occasions at other times.
Before the tour we drove from Bozeman around the northern and eastern borders of Yellowstone to Cody, Wyoming for three nights to visit the fabulous Buffalo Bill Cody Museum and Center (two days required) and to get a taste of the old West, the mountain men and the cowboys.
One is warned about bears and particularly grizzlies in US national parks. This was demonstrated chillingly by a video at the Cody museum. A grizzly bear was moving on a hillock some distance from a herd of bison. Suddenly, it charged down the hill with purpose and incredible speed. It’s fur and flesh jouncing wildly with its movement over the uneven ground. It killed the buffalo calf before the mother had a chance to react. She thought about it, but moved away, whilst the bear munched contentedly.
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