20 hours ago
Wednesday, July 6, 2016
Babysitting a Gentleman Bison at Mud Volcano
I accompanied the ranger to his Mud Volcano Ramble. I even had my own Volunteer radio and everything. When we arrived, as often is the case, there was a bison very near humans. TR just took off, all 6'3" of him, swiftly making his way across the parking lot while I headed around the lower loop the other way, because I knew he would be sending some humans in that direction. The bison was moving toward the parking lot and looking like he was about to use the boardwalk so nicely constructed for his meandering pleasure, but then he stopped. Meanwhile, TR was getting people off that part of the boardwalk in spite of one incredulous adult male human who had the audacity to ask, "Come on, you're not even gonna let me grab one picture?!?" TR said, "No. I'm not." Love it.
A Pacific Rim visitor, a woman, proceeded toward the bison from the uphill side and TR had to use what the Canyon District Ranger calls "his Big Outdoor Voice" to get her to stop. He also used the appropriate multi-cultural gesture he learned at training. :)
So we all stood around from safe distances watching to see which direction this bison would go. You know what? He decided he wasn't going to go for a walk after all. He returned to his wallow and decided to take a nap and chew his cud and dream of plowing snow in winter with his 100 pound head (or whatever it is bison think of). TR assigned me to "watch the bison." The other rangers got a chuckle out of this. It's the job everyone hates. I mean, we all love and appreciate bison, but they are a pain out there when it comes to doing your program at Mud Volcano (I think it's a 1.5 hour program). As TR's supervisor says about the way I volunteer, especially for his programs, "Nobody else has support like that!"
Twice this guy moved from resting on his belly upright to leaning over to one side with all four legs and hooves sticking straight out. I just wasn't quite fast enough with my camera, but it was, the CUTEST! Just a little bison stretch and then resting upright once again. They can weigh up to 2000 pounds so they can't stretch out like that for long as adults because it gets in the way of their breathing. Once, he licked his front right hoof. I answered a whole lotta questions about bison that day. "Why is he breathing so hard? Is he okay? How do you know it's a bull? Can they really run 35 mph? Do they attack people? What's the difference between a bison and a buffalo?" Hour and a half people. I now officially have the uniform triangle-tan on my chest.