Slim Pickings This Spring
--- The Grass Is Always Greener ---
The out-migration of bison from Yellowstone National Park is an annual event that is currently underway. Prior to the ranting of ranchers, activists, environmentalists, politicians, and tourists, it was simple:
The critters took a walk down the Madison River Valley toward Horse Butte, (NW of West Yellowstone, MT.,) until they found some fresh food, (sparse as it is,) and then took a walk back up the valley to the lush meadows of the Madison River in Yellowstone Park.
Of course the roads in the surrounding forest and the highways represent a lack of trees = more sun = quicker melt = first sprouts of spring! The bison have figured this out. So in the borrow pits of the highways there is a gathering of grazing ungulants. And, a gathering of slow cars with tourists taking pictures. And, a gathering of folks "protecting" the bison. And, a gathering of law enforcement protecting the "protectors" from the cars that they run in front of. And, a gathering of State Highway Personal putting up signs to inform the tourists, "protectors," residents, and law enforcement, of the migration of animals.
These gatherings have become a rite of Spring along Highway 191, and 287. The humor of it is not lost on "locals" who take pictures - not of the bison - but of the dangerous carnival that surrounds them. If you need a picture of a hungry bison, use the one above - it's in the public domain. If you need a picture of a rag-tag circus, visit West Yellowstone in the next three weeks.