Wildlife

Bodo Bison

A local rancher gives a tour of his bison herd
  • Apr 30, 2014
  • 284 words
  • 2 minutes
Barry Kaye holds a bison skull at his ranch near Wainwright, Alta. Expand Image
Advertisement

“Can you imagine 10,000 of those bastards going across the plains?”

Barry Kaye rests one hand on the wheel of his Ford F-350 pickup and points the other out the window at his nearby herd of bison, several of which look capable of flipping the one-tonne vehicle over with a flick of their great, shaggy heads.

“They’re athletes,” continues Kaye, who’s kept bison on his ranch outside Wainwright for about 15 years and through Buffalo Adventures, a local tourism consortium, offers appointment-only tours to see his herd. “They’ve got a big windpipe, a heart like a supercharger and can run more than 55 kilometres an hour.”

Bison are nowhere near as prevalent in Alberta as they were a mere 150 years ago, when millions roamed the Prairies, but you can still see isolated pockets of them in places such as Elk Island and Wood Buffalo national parks (the latter holds North America’s largest population of wild bison).

While it’s not surrounded by the beauty of a national park, the guaranteed close-up view of the bison you get at Kaye’s ranch is hard to beat (and the salty stream of patter coming from Kaye himself will keep you chuckling for days). A zoo atmosphere this is not, though, especially in August, when bison breed and can be aggressive. As Kaye wheels the pickup around the herd for a better view, a 1,000-kilogram bull that’s sheathed with muscle and nearly two metres tall at the top of its hump stops, drops and rolls in the dirt after a series of (unsuccessful) amorous advances. “He’s trying to cool off,” laughs Kaye, driving away and leaving the bison in peace.

Advertisement

Related Content

People & Culture

The cowboy exclaims: The ballad of an ageing vaquero and his troubled horse, Bunny

The ultimate goal of vaquero horsemanship is to produce a “finished” horse: an exceptionally responsive animal that is a true partner to its rider

  • 2524 words
  • 11 minutes

Travel

Editors’ behind-the-scenes insights through Twitter and Instagram

  • 1353 words
  • 6 minutes
A grizzly bear lies dead on the side of the road

Wildlife

Animal crossing: Reconnecting North America’s most important wildlife corridor

This past summer an ambitious wildlife under/overpass system broke ground in B.C. on a deadly stretch of highway just west of the Alberta border. Here’s how it happened.

  • 3625 words
  • 15 minutes
illegal wildlife trade, elephant foot, ivory, biodiversity

Wildlife

The illegal wildlife trade is a biodiversity apocalypse

An estimated annual $175-billion business, the illegal trade in wildlife is the world’s fourth-largest criminal enterprise. It stands to radically alter the animal kingdom.

  • 3405 words
  • 14 minutes