2022-05-13 Yellowstone Red Dogs

American Bison - Bison bison
Moms and their babies are always good for that “Ah” moment. It was the friskiness of these “Red Dogs” (or Bison calves) that caught my attention along the Madison River a few miles from the west entrance of Yellowstone National Park.

Bison calves are fondly referred to as “Red Dogs” because of their reddish coloration when they are born. When I reached my campsite in Yellowstone National Park Friday afternoon, I felt I needed to catch up as much as I could with the blogs from my last few days in Jackson Hole. There was no cell service in the Madison Campground, so I drove west six miles and found a wide pullout next to the Madison River where cell service (and therefore internet) was available. A small herd of Bison moms and their newborn calves were gathered there. I would get some of my work on my blogs done, but first I’d spend some time with the Bison.

The calves were very new. I could see their umbilical cords hadn’t quite healed. But their frisky antics were adorable, as they romped through the meadow, running ahead or behind their moms. I watched as they tested out their new legs and bonded with their moms. I didn’t see them munching on grass, but they watched to see what their moms were eating. They certainly knew where to find their mother’s milk, and how to pound the pouch when the nourishment didn’t come fast enough.

Mixed in with the cows and calves were a few sub-adults who were nearly as large as the cows, but playful head-butting between the juveniles betrayed their youth. During my later tour of other parts of the park taught me the larger bulls were in the higher country, and were either solitary or in smaller scattered groups. The cows needed as much grass as they could get before moving up-slope with their calves. During these early days of child-rearing, they knew the cold weather at the higher elevations delayed the grassy grazing they needed, and their offspring needed to get their legs before heading to higher ground.

Five days later now, and 165 miles away, I’m still playing catch up with my storytelling. I have one more Yellowstone tale to tell, and a few yarns to spin about my time in Cody Wyoming. I’m beginning to feel the time to cross the northern border into Montana and then to Canada, where I’m still interested in the Dempster Highway. It’s a long way to travel, but if not now, when?

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