On Saturday Oct. 7, I was a part of the large group that toured the Santa Fe trail . I saw parts of the county for the first time. I did not attend this function as much for the history as I did for the opportunity to view the flora and fauna. The animals were pretty scarce, but as I stood there looking over this magnificent country I could not help thinking about what types of wild life the people encountered back 150 years ago. One animal stands out in my mind.
The American Bison ( Bison bison bison ) also known as the buffalo would have been seen by nearly everyone that traveled the Santa Fe trail . It is the largest mammal on the North American continent. The overdeveloped front portion of the body and the wooly mane are the most noticeable features of this animal.
These features are used as insulation and protection during mating season and also cold weather. Bison live in the grasslands and meadows where they eat 30 pounds of food each day. Migration followed the seasons and hunters followed the migration. Natural predators are the grey wolf, coyote, and grizzly bear.
Females traveled in herds of related animals while males traveled in groups or alone. Males and females came together during mating season. After a 285 day gestation period the calves are born. The calves can run 3 hours after being born and are weaned at 7 months. They continue to stay with the mother for three years.
Fully grown bison are 60 to 78 inches tall and 80 to 144 inches long. They weigh in at 1700 to 2400 pounds and can live 20 to 40 years. Outrunning these animals is out of the question since they can reach speeds of 35 miles per hour.
The history of our area is quite remarkable. Without the animals, plants, and people we would not have any history. For those of you who have never taken a tour of the Santa Fe trail , Get out there and enjoy your small piece of this world. You will find something fascinating even if only in your mind!
Boise City News