Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hunt Responsibly Near National Parks

Growing up in the south, I grew up with a dad who was gone almost every weekend during deer hunting season. Once I was old enough to wield a gun, I went into the woods with him and killed a few deer myself. I remember my dad being a very responsible hunter, making sure deer were large enough to be taken or not killing a male since he would help with the breeding population. So, it absolutely kills me when I hear of hunters being irresponsible. A hunter was recently charged for killing a bison within Grand Teton National Park boundaries. The hunter was cooperative with rangers and lead them to the location where he killed the bison. Though there are no lines drawn on the ground showing the boundaries of the park, it is the hunter's responsibility to know where he is based on GPS coordinates.

I think this really bugs me because of the long journey bison have faced as far as getting their numbers back up. There used to be millions of bison who roamed the plains of western America, up to Canada and down to Mexico. When settlers started moving west, the bison were slaughtered pretty relentlessly, to the point of near extinction. And this slaughter mostly happened for their skins, with the rest of the bison left to rot. This is depicted in the movie Dances With Wolves. Today, approximately 30,000 bison still roam freely on the range. Another 500,000 are actually captive bred for commercial purposes. 

These animals are some of my favorite to see in Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. One actually lounged around our campsite when we visited Yellowstone a few years back, and one took the time to block the roadway while we were driving in the park on the same trip. If you ever have the chance to see them, you should definitely do it. It really is quite something to see a field full of them. I don't care if you think I'm sort of liberal conservationist, I think it would really suck if I can't show my kids these awesome creatures one day. 

If you want to read the story about this (click here). Below I have pics I have taken of these amazing creatures on my trip to Yellowstone.

A herd of bison

Our bison friend who blocked the road.

Bison lounging at our campsite