A large bull bison wades through belly-deep snow in the Lamar Valley. (Timothy C. Mayo)

Over President’s Day Weekend, photographer Timothy C. Mayo drove through an escalating ground blizzard to the confluence of Soda Butte Creek and Lamar River in Yellowstone National Park. Though he had set out to photograph wolves, a large bison bull wading through drifting snow caught his eye. 

“As the bull moved through the deep snow, he tripped on several snow pockets caused by the sagebrush,” Mayo wrote in an email to WyoFile, “and to catch his balance he rushed forward.”

Mayo captured these movements — which to the naked eye look almost like the large bovid is bounding through the snow for fun. Bulls can weigh 2,000 pounds.

America’s national mammal, 4,829 bison populated Yellowstone in the summer of 2019, according to a park count. Advocacy group Buffalo Field Campaign reported Thursday that 40 bison migrating outside the park have been killed by hunters this season, part of a controversial effort to keep herd numbers down.

Yellowstone’s goal is to cull between 600 and 900 bison this winter, some of which will be trapped inside the park and shipped to slaughter.

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Katie Klingsporn

Katie Klingsporn is WyoFile's managing editor. She is a journalist and word geek who has been writing about life in the West for 15 years. Her pieces have appeared in Adventure Journal, National Geographic...

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  1. I just do not get the on going of culling of the bison in the Park area. I have lived in Cody for 46 years, all my adult life and have seen the Park change first hand. You would think with the elk and mule deer numbers as they are now, compared to before wolf introduction there would be plenty of forage for the bison, without the effects of over grazing. As I see it in some places in the park even bison are even missing from historic ranges. But of course, I ‘am not as nearly as bright as Mr. Smith who thinks the Park is the BEST it has ever been in history, as he reported on the 60 Minutes program..Self proclamation seems very dangerous to me.