Bison in the Woods

Here at the Outpost, the beautiful leaves of fall are drifting to rest under the canopy of a savanna. Autumn winds break leaf from limb opening the woodland to the bison. As if by invitation, the bison are back in the timber grazing beneath barren limbs. We have observed this behavior previously in the fall and have dubbed this, ‘The Bison’s Wintering Grounds.’

In the warm season, the bison herd prefers to roam through the open, native grassland grazing favorite natives like Big Bluestem, Eastern Gamagrass and River Oats.  Ironically, during the summer when most critters are seeking shade, the bison habitually avoid the wooded areas altogether. After the leaves fall in the cool season, a reversal in bison grazing behavior occurs. About November, bison at the Outpost plot a direct course amidst golden leaves fallen from above, lingering to fervently graze the native grasses there.

We can’t help but guess why the bison don’t like shade trees.  We observe that when we move the bison into or through enclosed spaces, the bison feel stress and they move away from those perceived pressures of the tight space.  We wonder if the bison herd’s sensitivity to the pressure of enclosed spaces makes them feel pressured to leave the timber when leaf cover blocks their vision through the woodland.  Basically, the leaves create an enclosed space.  And, once the herd can see through the timber, they can once again be found beneath the bare trees grazing in the open savanna.




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