JACKSON, Wyo. — Photographer T.L. Wilson captured these stunning images of bison crossing the Yellowstone River in the Hayden Valley of Yellowstone National Park earlier last fall.
“I drove up to Yellowstone National Park in the early morning from Jackson Hole,” Wilson said. “I saw a few photographers with their tripods set up along the side of the road, facing in the direction of the Yellowstone River. However, I couldn’t understand why they were there because the fog was so thick that you couldn’t see more than ten feet in front of you. So, I kept driving, hoping to spot some wildlife further down the road. A couple of hours later, on my way back, the fog started to clear, and then I saw the herds of buffalo on the opposite side of the river, framed by the backdrop of trees with freshly fallen snow. I assume these photographers spotted the herds the afternoon before. I pulled over to take some photos and suddenly, one of the buffalo started to swim across the river in our direction.”
Looks cold right?
According to the National Park Service website, during the cold winter season, bison develop thick, woolly coats that help protect them from freezing temperatures and harsh winds. It is said that a bison’s winter coat is so thick and provides insulation so effective that when snow accumulates on its coat, it will not melt from the heat of the bison’s skin.
Their skin also thickens in response to cold temperatures and fatty deposits appear to insulate the animal. This is important because during winter storms, bison will actually turn toward the storm, hunker down, and wait for it to pass.
With thick coats and creating a low profile, bison can survive the same storm that would kill many domestic livestock. Bison also have the ability use their large head and massive neck and shoulder muscles as snow plows to forage in snow as deep as four feet.
“Every buffalo followed in single file,” said Wilson. “It was a spectacular sight and I am happy to report that almost everyone there respected these beautiful animals by keeping their distance and remaining in the pull-out area.”
More photos captured by Wilson can be found online here.