Yesterday's Light

Images in Space and Time

Bison Traffic Jams

Bison Traffic Jam (9924)

Bison (not buffalo) traffic jams.  Unless you’re at a zoo, you won’t find any actual buffalo in North America.  Bison I guess are close cousins.

I’d heard about these “jams”, and seen pictures of them, particularly with respect to Yellowstone NP.  And we actually encountered one of them while driving around Yellowstone.  When these creatures decide to “occupy” the roadway, that’s it.  Traffic stops.  For as long as they want to stay there.  You just have to wait until the spirit moves them to get going again.  Sometimes, if you’re lucky, a bull will wander past your vehicle and snort at you.  Not an experience you normally get while driving through western New York.

This one, however, didn’t happen at Yellowstone.  This one – our second experience – happened on Antelope Island, an island on the eastern side of Great Salt Lake, a little to the northwest of Salt Lake City.  The island has a herd of roughly 300 bison roaming around freely.  And, just like in Yellowstone, they sometimes decide to cross the road.  So you wait.  One of them (a bull) decided to walk past my wife’s window.  Luckily, she managed to get a picture of the thing.

Bison, Antelope Island (G12, 1880)

These are big creatures.  They’re also quick when they want to be.  They act like domestic cows in a pasture most of the time but they can run faster than any human when perturbed and they’ve been known to gore tourists unwise enough to wander too close.  I saw one guy in Yellowstone (with a camera and tripod) standing in the middle of a group of them.  Dumb.  He was literally surrounded.  And happy as a clam.  I assume he got out OK because I never heard anything about anyone being attacked by an irate bison.  Funny how the idiots always manage to survive.  Probably got some nice pictures, too…………..


4 Responses to “Bison Traffic Jams”

    • Paul Maxim

      Thanks, John. I’ll tell her – she’ll really appreciate that! Although I have to say that I was yelling “take it now, take it now! Or all you’ll get is his butt!”

  1. Cedric Canard

    Ever since my first encounter with a bison, I have been fascinated by them. They seem like such odd creatures with proportions that seem all wrong as if they were designed from spare parts. Though tourists in Australia may well say the same thing about kangaroos I suppose.

    The bull shot is excellent. I am sure it had to do with your perfectly timed yelling though 😉

    • Paul Maxim

      Yes, they are absolutely “odd” creatures. And their heads are so big. I’ve also found it difficult to see their eyes in a photograph – they seem like “dead” eyes. My wife, however, did get a glint of light in the eye in this picture.

      Actually, I’ve got “proof” that my wife sometimes takes too long to snap the picture. Nearly the same thing happened in Yellowstone and we now have a nice image of a different bison’s hind end. So I didn’t want to miss this one……..


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