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Bison, or American Buffalo, which once roamed North America in vast numbers, can be seen along the open flat lands that stretch between Madison Junction and Old Faithful and in the northeastern and central parts of the park. These unmistakably large animals are characterized by a bulky body, large head and curved horns. Weighing up to 2,200 lbs, bison are often 5 to 6 feet in length, with long shaggy hair over their shoulders and legs that insulate them during harsh prairie winters.
Yellowstone's status as a wildlife preserve has helped increase the bison's numbers, which by the late 1800s had plummeted to dangerous lows. Less than 100 bison existed throughout North America by the end of the 19th century due largely to mass hunting and poaching. Efforts throughout the last century have made the bison one of nature's better success stories: Buffalo can be seen in many rural areas of the West, although Yellowstone has the only free-roaming herds of bison in the United States. Thanks to vigilant conservation efforts, there are now about 3-4,000 bison in Yellowstone.
Other natural threats however, continue to jeopardize the bison's existence. Bison are susceptible to brucellosis, a disease that is known to affect domesticated cattle. Yellowstone herds are prohibited from leaving the park and can be shot if they enter Montana rangelands. It is still unclear however, as to whether rangeland cattle can be infected from coming in contact with free-roaming bison.
Spring is a popular time to watch for bison, since they generally calf during April or May. The Madison, Firehole and Gibbon River areas are good locations for spotting bison. Hayden Valley near the Yellowstone River, Fishing Bridge, Fountain Flats, Mud Volcano and Lamar Valley are prime viewing areas as well.
Best selection of books on the Northwest.
Compass American Guides: Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks, 1st Edition by Brian Kevin. Fodor's Compass American Guides have a new design and practical information you need to make the most of your visit to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Easy-to-use practical information you need to get around and experience the best of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Order now...
The Concise Visitor's Guide to Yellowstone by Matt Bolton. Sized perfectly for backpacks this guide offers specifics on food, what to see, children's activities, weather, wildlife, seasonal road closures, ranger programs, visitor centers, what differentiates each section of the park and more. Filled with information, phone numbers, web sites, and detailed maps this is the tool to use when planning a trip to Yellowstone. Order now...
Moon Spotlight Yellowstone National Park by Don Pitcher. 80-page compact guide covering must-see attractions and maps with sightseeing highlights. This lightweight guide is packed with recommendations on sights, entertainment, shopping, recreations, accommodations, food, and transportation, as well as easy-to-read maps. Order now...
National Geographic Park Profiles: Yellowstone Country by Seymour L. Fishbein. Yellowstone Country tours the stunning region that includes Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, a mosaic of national forests, wilderness areas, wildlife refuges, countless waterfalls, hot springs and two-thirds of the world's active geysers. Order now...
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