Photo Of The Day: Buffalo In Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park is among our country’s most famous, and arguably most beautiful, natural wonders. In addition to dramatic scenery, the park is home to an impressive array of wildlife, including elk, wolves, bears and that most iconic of symbols from the American Plains: the buffalo. I love the lighting, the idyllic setting and most importantly, the herd of buffalo grazing in today’s photo of Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley, courtesy of Flickr user Max Waugh Photography.

Taken any great photos of our nation’s national parks? Why not add them to our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.

[Photo credit: Flickr user Max Waugh Photography]

Congress Seeks To Make Bison America’s ‘National Mammal’

Earlier this week, Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi introduced a bill to congress that seeks to make the bison America’s “national mammal.” The bill, which is officially titled the National Bison Legacy Act, was brought before lawmakers at the request of the Wildlife Conservation Society and seems to have wide support from both sides of aisle.

If the act becomes law, the bison would be granted a similar status as the bald eagle, the oak tree and the rose as official national symbols of the United States. Beyond that there would be very little direct effect, although that doesn’t deter the sponsors of the bill. They see the bison as an important part of American heritage dating back to a time when only Native Americans occupied the region.

The bison is the largest land animal in North America and their vast herds once numbered in the millions. At their peak, those herds covered the Great Plains, ranging from the Rocky Mountains to as far east as the Appalachians. But as settlers moved west the animals were hunted for their meat and fur, bringing them to the brink of extinction. In the early 1900s President Teddy Roosevelt, working with several conservation groups, played an instrumental role in saving them from that fate. Today the bison population is estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands, some of which are domesticated, and healthy herds can be found in places like Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks.

Although this piece of legislation doesn’t carry much weight, supporters say that it will still make American’s more aware of the role the bison has played in the country’s history and will help create support for further protecting the creatures and their natural environments.

Austin’s wandering bison found, returned home

Austin, Texas is no longer where the buffalo roam. The escaped bison that we first told you about last week, was found on Friday and returned safely to the ranch where she had escaped more than a week earlier.

On August 3rd, the bison was purchased by a local rancher, who returned home to introduce her into his existing herd. While unloading her on his property however, something spooked the creature, and she escaped into the surrounding woods.

Several days later, the bison turned up at the 280-acre Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, where she proceeded to evade all attempts to catch her, while simultaneously capturing the imagination of the Austin community. She earned the name “Liberty” from the local media, and while we all knew the inevitable outcome, there was still hope that she might continue to wander free.

On Friday Liberty was sighted for the first time in several days and animal control officers moved in quickly to tranquilize her. After the drugs took effect, she was then loaded onto a trailer and returned to her owner, who was able to integrate her into his herd at last. She’ll now receive a steady supply of food and water, which was an ongoing concern due to the oppressive Texas summer heat and one of the worst droughts in recent memory.

[Photo credit: MyFox Austin]

A bison is on the loose in Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas is a city that is use to large bovine creatures roaming around. After all, it is home to the University of Texas Longhorns and their mascot Bevo. But the city got an unexpected visitor earlier this week in the form of a North American Bison, who escaped from its owner on Saturday, and has been roaming free ever since.

Apparently, a rancher living not far from town purchased the bison last week, and upon returning home, the creature promptly escaped. On Saturday, it was spotted by gardeners at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, a local nature preserve, and has been wandering, and grazing, on the 280-acre site for the past few days.

After sighting the creature, officials at the Wildflower Center took the precautionary step of shutting down their trails in order to keep visitors, and the bison, safe. They say that the animal hasn’t caused any problems, or done any damage so far, and that they are rather pleased that she chose the preserve as her hideout.

Of course, a large animal, such as a bison, roaming around a highly populated urban area isn’t exactly an ideal situation. Austin animal control officers have been working hard to find the creature so that it can be tranquilized and safely transported back to its owner. So far, the creature has remained elusive however, and all attempts to find it have failed.

For now, Austin is where the buffalo roam.

[Photo courtesy of Joseph A. Marcus]

Yellowstone in pictures: 2011

Yellowstone is a wild place of fire and ice. The first son of the United States national parks system, and the first national park in the entire world, is a rich ecosystem of wild creatures and geothermal wonders. With snow capped peaks and alien-looking hot springs, Yellowstone’s diversity prompts millions to visit the high altitude Serengeti yearly.

While Old Faithful performs on schedule every hour or so, much of the park changes year over year. Hotbeds of geothermal activity spread and recede. The animals behave unpredictably, taking cues from weather, water level, and crowds. In one year a visitor may see only a handful of bison, but the next year, thousands may come into view at the same location on the same day. And the holy grail of Yellowstone, a bear sighting, is likely in some years and near impossible in others. (Check out these tips to safely exist among bears in the wild) This dynamism provides a unique experience even for repeat visitors.

From stopping at Bison traffic jams to kneeling quietly at a shady brook to watch a mossy antlered moose cooling off, Yellowstone provides a glimpse into what the United States looked like before being settled from coast to coast. Every American should feel obligated to visit two places in their lifetime: Yellowstone Park and New York City. One shows what we are, the other, what we were. Check out this gallery of Yellowstone beauty.


All photography by Justin Delaney