National Geographic : 1967 Nov
FH >>M 7 >~~~ 1o c °ig USL., uui) xi uL O4 z 5. S£ H,0 MCLv - , oZE uS cz° C vc, zwi 'Xy~z z ~, ~ ~3 2~g~ 2 o-.~ 0r * 00 2BwC~" ~ 5~Ze . ~ mmP ;0> . o W m '7 '7 .- o.uC Ss y < O '^> Say ^t 0 5'c V^^ Esgigg ECL-PtB TEAR OUT THE ATTACHED PAGE as your reminder to view "Grizzly!"-first in the Society's 1967-68 television series. Bob explained, as we dived quickly to head off a cow and a calf that seemed determined to leave the trail. By now I had slid back a helicopter window. Bitter-cold blasts whipped my face and hands as I photo graphed the galloping bison. The drive was only ten minutes old when I noticed the buffalo were running with their tongues hanging out. Steam billowed from their nostrils. They couldn't go much farther at this pace, I thought. Surely they would drop from exhaustion. Yet they seemed to be running harder. Bob sensed my concern. "They'll run like that forever," he said. "Their endurance will amaze you." It did. The four-mile drive had included several creek crossings (pages 642-4). When we left the buffalo, still ten miles from the trap, they looked tired but able to hit the trail again. They could rest now; we would drive them on into the trap on another day. Tribesmen Banished, but Game Survives Flying back to Mammoth Hot Springs, we passed over rolling hills and meadows laced with trails of elk, buffalo, bighorn sheep, and deer. Long before the winter of 1807, when trapper John Colter explored this country, the abundance of game had made Yellowstone a natural hunting ground for great Indian nations. First came the Shoshoni and Ban nock, and later the Crow, Nez Perce, and Flathead, to fill their bellies and lodges with meat and hides. In 1877, five years after Yellowstone be came our first national park, the Nez Perce hunted the area for the last time, as Chief Joseph led them on an ill-fated retreat from U. S. Cavalry. Troops finally caught up with the Indians in Montana near the Canadian border, well beyond the park confines, and defeated them in battle. Chief Joseph and other survivors were sent to a reservation. Today, thanks to an enlightened wildlife management program, Yellowstone shelters a variety of game, much as when Indians and mountain men drifted through the wilderness. A good share of the credit belongs to former Superintendent Lemuel A. (Lon) Garrison and to Robert E. Howe, for ten years Yellow stone's park biologist. Recently Bob became superintendent of Sitka and Glacier Bay National Monuments in Alaska. I visited with Bob in Yellowstone after returning from the morning's buffalo drive. Over coffee he briefed me on the goals of the management program. "The National Park Service's objective," he said, "is simply to keep the park as natural as possible. We aim to have a representation of each wildlife species that existed in Yellow stone when the mountain men first arrived." The wolf, Bob said, is the only original predator no longer found in Yellowstone. "We realize now that we were too hard on the wolves and mountain lions in the early days," he said. "We hope eventually to re introduce wolves into the park. But Yellow stone is surrounded by ranching country, and bringing back these predators would be a matter of serious concern to ranchers." Mountain lions are occasionally reported in the park, and coyotes are abundant. "Coyotes are no real threat to the big game herds," Bob said. "An elk or buffalo is more than a match for a coyote, and nature protects the calves. Like the young of all wild crea tures, an elk or buffalo calf gives off almost no scent. A coyote could pass within ten feet of a newborn elk and not know it was there." Aspen Threatened by Browsing Elk Grazing competition between species has been amajor problem inYellowstone. To main tain the park's natural state, the vegetation must also be protected. In the early years ani mals could easily move into unpopulated areas outside the park for winter food. Now, as more people come to ranch or farm, the park's ani mals-especially its herds of elk-find winter forage increasingly scarce. Elk wreak havoc upon aspen trees, de vouring their young shoots. With no regrowth from seedlings, the colorful aspen could van ish from the park. (Continued on page 647) U*a Ob ~ 2^-c? 1? 3 OQQp7 "op' 2c ,,0 0', QO> r-00 vi ,Up00 U000 uaao x 3 Badge of maturity, 12-tined antlers crown a lordly bull elk in Yellowstone; they serve also as formidable weapons (page 651). Breaking through snow to find food, this bull has added a white mask to his face and frosting to his antlers. Once held in check by wolves and mountain lions, the area's elk today lack natural enemies. At present the park shelters about 6,000, plus an additional 4,000 in summer, when Yellowstone's high pastures attract animals from neigh boring wilds. To maintain proper balance with bighorn sheep, antelope, and deer populations, rangers must occasionally reduce the elk herd so that lack of food does not endanger all. 640 avr>. pdp3. 3E qeaw 4.o 2- yG 22 , 'a'2'x " w2 ~L 2O t4t.