Memories of #Yellowstone, Explore and Discover, Wyoming

By April 5, 2017Wyoming

I take this photograph from a loop trail near Mammoth Lodge.  Here, most of the snow is melted on the craggy hillside and the valley floor is dotted with scrub.  During our stay we have learned about the preferences of wildlife for different habitats, like big horn sheep, who prefer the rocky places on the cliffs for safety from predators who would rather not face such obstacles; elk, who wade in creeks to deter predators; coyotes and bison, who often live, hunt, or graze on the plains; bears, who hibernate in dens; and wolves, who live in rival packs throughout much of the park.  We observed the geothermal features, steaming in the cold of winter, that fascinated our forefathers to preserve this first national park.  Today, Yellowstone is is also a treasure as a wildlife preserve, but the bison have made a tremendous comeback from near decimation that challenges the limits of park to offer adequate grazing land for the herd in winter.  Recently bison management has included herd reductions–which began January 6, 2017.   But, every year federal, state, and tribal members meet to adjust the Interagency Bison Management Plan.  This year the governor of Montana took steps to establish a Brucellosis-free herd that would eliminate the possibility of spread of this debilitating political disease to livestock.  For me, as a veterinarian who has deployed with the USDA to two emergency disease outbreaks, it is interesting to follow the progress of the IBMP and the complicated decisions of the officials who manage it.  The management of Yellowstone will always be a work in progress with necessary adaptations to evolving connections of mind and heart amongst individuals with widely varying priorities.   With this global photo story, I salute the brave, compromising, and intelligent people who work together to develop a plan that compliments the wildlife drama of this great park, the health of everyone, the heritage of the tribes, and the yearly rejuvenation of grasses and plants in this timeless and enchanting land.