One of the best things about Yellowstone is the accessibility and breadth of wildlife there to enjoy. Some of them are easier to find than others, but you always get the satisfaction of knowing you are seeing them in their natural habitat.
The most plentiful are the Bison. While the tamest at the outlook – grazing in the field and moving slowly, they are actually the most dangerous in the park. That is, when people think they can get close and try to put their kids on their back like they are ponies, they tend to protest. But assuming you stay 25 feet away, they are both bold and graceful and everywhere you look. They are taller than my car, so when they cut in front or behind you, they are suddenly more daunting than watching them from afar, swimming across the river, or enjoying an afternoon nap or bout of roughhousing in the meadows. Up in Lamar Valley I saw one heard estimating over 1000 heads, in a single corner of the valley, while anywhere in the major figure 8 loop we were always pulling over, driving past, or halting for Bison. I found more of them on the East side of the park, just North of the Canyon area, but they could be anywhere. They are one of my favourite things about the park.
The deer (seen left) and elk (right) are two more creatures that can be found in the park. And they are majestic creatures. They suffer the most at the hands of drivers. Where as the bison then to break the cars that run into them (and this doesn’t happen as often) the faster deer and elk tend to dart into the road and become victim to the vehicles. While we were there we were pulled over one morning for speeding (oops!) The ranger who pulled us over said it was really important that we slowed down because they had already had to put an Elk down that morning after it was hit by a car. They are park rangers – they are concerned with protecting the wild life!! If you are lucky enough to see any of the
Of course there is the infamous bears. I hate bears. I am AFRAID of bears. Paranoid actually. I like to call it “bearanoia” – and if you have been reading my blog a while, you would be familiar with this word. Once again, I have made it in and out of Yellowstone unscathed. I have yet to SEE a bear – and for that I am grateful. I prefer my bears out of site, miles a way. and if I do see one, I hope there is a large wire cage or some sort separating us (such as my Grizzly siting at the top of Grouse mountain!) I did see this sign though – enough for me to run back to my car
Now I have yet to see the mysterious Moose that grace the park (or the wolves, but I’m less excited about those). I would LOVE to photograph the Moose. But I have been told there are only about 900 in the area, you will only catch them just before the sun rises, and most often they are South. According to the park rangers, 800 of the 900 are into the Grand Tetons – and I just haven’t had the chance to make it into the park quite yet. Something to look forward to for next time!
If you are headed to Yellowstone – and love photography as I do – bring a long lens. Read about the rules for all the wildlife in the park – and maintain appropriate distances. Dangerous animal encounters only happen when people are stupid (they sell a book all about it – it’s basically the Darwin awards, Yellowstone edition). And then – enjoy! It’s important to connect to nature. Remember, in the large scheme, we are the one thing that doesn’t make sense in the ecosystem – so make like you are not there, observe, and enjoy!