Grizzly Bears 🐻

While I love a number of animals, I wanted to briefly highlight one of my favorites today. And one that I am hoping hoping hoping to get a glimpse of on our next trip to Yellowstone National Park. I am talking about grizzly bears. Good job if you read the title to this blog post and guessed it! 😉

Today, grizzly bears only live in western Canada and northwestern United States.  Grizzlies once roamed North America from Mexico on up to Alaska and from California across to the Great Plains. Grizzlies gained protection in 1975 by getting listed on the Endangered Species Act.

These massive animals are a subspecies of the brown bear. Grizzlies weigh around 700 pounds and on their hind legs can stand about 8 feet tall. That’s huge! Yet, about 75% of their diet comes from berries. That’s a lot of berries every day to keep these big bears happy!  In addition to their grand size, their color ranges from very light tan to dark brown. They have a very large shoulder hump and extremely long claws.

Grizzlies surprise many people with their agility and speed as well as with their intelligence. Grizzlies can run up to 40 mph! In addition, grizzlies have a strong intellect and solid memory!

Did you know that the mama grizzlies give birth during hibernation? I cannot imagine giving birth in a winter den! They are some strong females! And these mamas fiercely protect their cubs! I know that many mothers out there can relate to fiercely protecting our children. I definitely channel my inner grizzly at times!

Humans stand as the main predator of grizzlies. These very intelligent and unique animals play a huge role in our ecosystem and deserve to stick around for our future generations.  I love that our national parks provide a safe place for these beautiful animals (as well as many other animals)! And I’m crossing my fingers to see one (at a safe distance) during our next trip to Yellowstone National Park!

For lots more information on grizzly bears, click here.

Bison

 

When you think about our national parks, what do you think about? Many people will say the wildlife.  Our national parks contain some amazing animals – on land, in the water, or even in our skies!  One of these amazing animals really awed me the first time seeing them – bison!

When you think about the American West, you can’t help but think about the American bison.

I will never forget driving into Yellowstone National Park and seeing my first herd of bison there.  They are such large, beautiful creatures.  American male bison weigh around 2,000 pounds!  Also, did you know that these huge mammals can run up to 35 mph?

It’s also pretty cool to think that these bison have lived in Yellowstone continuously since prehistoric times.  Millions used to roam North America along all parts of it.

So, are they called bison or buffalo?  Americans often refer to these creatures as buffalo.  Technically, they are bison. Bison fall into the same scientific family group as the Asian water buffalo and the African cape buffalo.  Back when European explorers came to America and saw the bison and thought that they looked similar to the Old World buffalo, so started calling them buffalo.  Yet, technically they are bison here in America.  Buffalo in Africa and Asia do not have a large hump by their shoulders that the bison have here.

The American bison have endured many challenges over the years. In particular, hunting and poaching dwindled their numbers down to about two dozen left.  Over many years, national park employees worked hard to bring the bison numbers back up in Yellowstone and avoid extinction.  These great animals still face challenges today, but the goals still exist to protect and best manage these mammals.

In 2016, bison were declared our national mammal because they are a symbol of wild America, an important part of our heritage, and a key player in an ecosystem that’s much larger than a national park.

During your next trip to Yellowstone National Park, remember that bison are wild animals. According to the NPS, bison have injured more people in Yellowstone than any other animal there. Stay at least 25 yards away from bison (if not more) as these great creatures can be unpredictable and run fast!

I can’t wait to see this great creature again out in the wild and roaming through the valleys of Yellowstone National Park!