Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Bison in Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan

Bison at Grasslands National Park. 
Grazing is important to this fragile grassland ecosytem, 
whether done by bison or cattle, as the animals contribute
nutrients and create varied bird habitats. © SB
I saw dozens of bison in Grasslands National Park, Southwest Saskatchewan, on a recent visit to the area.

While some herds were only distant hillside specks, several bison bulls loitered on the native prairie along the park's main Ecotour Road, watching — or ignoring us — from a distance.

(Bison are powerful, fast and agile, and can quickly change directions, so best to keep your distance. Cute as some of these photos may be, bison are neither tame nor cuddly animals. And yes, I had a long lens for these photographs.)

Also wonderful:

A chance to hear bison expert Wes Olson talk about the herds and animals he has managed in the park for many years.

(Not so wonderful: On Wes's retirement, his position apparently is not to be filled, thus leading to a significant loss of knowledge. Seriously — Wes is an amazing guy; check out his website.)

Bison, on a distant hill.
At this time of year, most groups near the Ecotour Road
through Grasslands park are comprised of bulls, mainly young ones. 
© SB 

Experts says to stay clear of bison if their tails are elevated
- they are ready to charge, or discharge. -
This bison had the latter in progress;
I was some distance away, in a truck.  
© SB

One Bison bison bison, three cowbirds. © SB

Bison expert Wes Olson described birds' nests made of strands
 - and shed clumps - of bison hair.
It's great insulation and the smell repels predators. 
© SB

Bison with Brown-headed Cowbird (formerly Buffalo Bird) on its back.
Bison expert Wes Olson explained that the bison's weight is evenly balanced,
front to back, with the centre at the point of its hump/front legs.
Hence its ability to quickly pivot and change directions. 
© SB

Bison expert Wes Olson telling stories
to our group about the bison he knows so well. 
© SB

Seen on the Prairie Passages tour of PFRA and other publicly owned grasslands, with conservationists, authors, and photographers, including Margaret Atwood, Graeme Gibson, Alberto Yanosky (Executive Director of BirdLife affiliate Guyra Paraguay), and Ian Davidson (Exec. Dir., Nature Canada). Organized by Public Pastures - Public Interest. For more on the tour, see Pasture Posts and Trevor Herriot's Grass Notes.

What are these? Bison and a bison expert.
Location: Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan.
Photo date: June 25, 2013.


1 comment:

  1. The grasslands park was and is a great commitment by the government of Canada. I have been through the Park three times and hope to be again. Being born on the prairies of Alberta the prairies of Alberta and Saskatchewan are my favorite place's. The second is the Peace River Country of Alberta which has been my home for 50 plus years. Jim Jensen Fairview and Bear Canyon Alberta.


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