I was recently in the Park. The snow is incredibly deep in mid-April (deep even for winter). It is snowfree, however, at Gardiner (typical — strong rainshadow). That is where the wintering wildlife migrate to and then north out of the Park. They all do it, except for bison it is an almost certain death sentence courtesy of the Montana Department of wildlife.
Here are some photos from my trip. Copyrighted by Ralph Maughan
© These bison have just left Yellowstone Park (April 10, 2008). Like the deer and elk, they move out of the deep snow to the generally snow free area north of the Park (it’s in a strong rain shadow). But for bison, it is a capital offense.
About 75 left in a single file as I watched. They next morning, Montana Department of Livestock had all of them loaded into trucks to take to slaughter. This happens day after day. I was so sick that I almost went home.
© Deep snow in the Lamar Valley (April 13, 2008). There is no place for elk or bison. The snow is deep and hard, and there are few tracks of large animals crossing it. The few elk and bison hang out on marginal bare spots on the south-facing slopes. Many bison just stagger down the road looking for a new blade of grass.
Spring does seem to be coming, however. Bare spots are getting a little bit green.
© Bison search for something to eat on the margins of US 191 north of West Yellowstone. These bison west of the Park are expected to be the next herd to be slaughtered by Montana Department of Livestock.
© This bison didn’t make it.
At first I thought it was just resting, but I came back several hours later and looked more closely.
It is thought that many dead bison (and elk) are buried under the snow.