Posts Tagged ‘bison’

A 13,000-year-old bison fossil has shown the most likely migration route of some of the first native Americans.

DNA from the bison remains has narrowed down when an ice-free corridor opened up along the Rocky Mountains during the late Pleistocene.

That corridor was a vital route for migrations between what is now Alaska and Yukon in the far north and the rest of the North American continent.

Researchers had previously suspected this was the way migrating humans and animals must have travelled, but were unclear about how and when it was used.

But now, a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows the route was fully open by about 13,000 years ago.

While this route was closed when the very first humans moved south of the ice sheets into North America around 15,000 years ago (they probably took a Pacific coastal route), it is thought it later became a well-travelled thoroughfare in both directions.

“The opening of the corridor provided new opportunities for migration and the exchange of ideas between people living north and south of the ice sheets,” said Peter Heintzman, of UC Santa Cruz, who led the DNA analysis.

His coauthor Beth Shapiro, also from UC Santa Cruz, has previously shown that bison populations north and south of the ice sheets were genetically distinct by the time the corridor opened.

So, armed with that knowledge, the researchers have been able track the movement of northern bison southward, and southern bison northward.

“The radiocarbon dates told us how old the fossils were, but the key thing was the genetic analysis, because that told us when bison from the northern and southern populations were able to meet within the corridor,” Heintzman said.

https://cosmosmagazine.com/life-sciences/ice-age-bison-dna-sheds-light-human-migration

The bison has become the official national mammal of the United States under legislation signed into law by President Barack Obama on Monday.

Lawmakers spearheading the effort say the once nearly extinct icon deserves the elevated stature because of its economic and cultural significance in the nation’s history.

Millions of bison once roamed the Great Plains. About 500,000 now live in the U.S. but most of those have been cross-bred with cattle, and are semi-domesticated. About 30,000 wild bison roam the country, with the largest population in Yellowstone National Park.

Supporters of the legislation say they believe the recognition will elevate the stature of the bison to that of the bald eagle, long the national emblem, and bring greater attention to ongoing recovery efforts of the species.

“I hope that in my lifetime, thanks to a broad coalition of ranchers, wildlife advocates and tribal nations, we will see bison return to the prominent place they once occupied in our nation’s shortgrass prairies,” said Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, who worked with Republican Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota to pass the Senate version of the legislation.

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/obama-signs-legislation-designating-bison-national-mammal-n570801

A multinational team of researchers has sequenced the nuclear genome of the aurochs (Bos primigenius), an extinct species of ox that inhabited Europe, Asia and North Africa.

“This is the first complete nuclear genome sequence from the extinct Eurasian aurochs,” said Dr David MacHugh of University College Dublin, Ireland, corresponding author of a paper published online in the journal Genome Biology.

Domestication of the now-extinct wild aurochs gave rise to the two major domestic extant cattle species – Bos taurus and B. indicus.

While previous genetic studies have shed some light on the evolutionary relationships between European aurochs and modern cattle, important questions remain unanswered, including the phylogenetic status of aurochs, whether gene flow from aurochs into early domestic populations occurred, and which genomic regions were subject to selection processes during and after domestication.

To build a clearer picture of the ancestry of European cattle breeds, Dr MacHugh and his colleagues from the United States, the UK, China and Ireland, extracted genetic material from a bone of a 6,750 year old wild aurochs discovered in a cave in Derbyshire, England.

The scientists then sequenced its complete genome and compared it with the genomes of 81 domesticated Bos taurus and B. indicus animals, and DNA marker information from more than 1,200 modern cows.

They discovered clear evidence of breeding between wild British aurochs and early domesticated cattle.

“Our results show the ancestors of modern British and Irish breeds share more genetic similarities with this ancient specimen than other European cattle,” Dr MacHugh said.

“This suggests that early British farmers may have restocked their domesticated herds with wild aurochs.”

“Genes linked to neurobiology and muscle development were also found to be associated with domestication of the ancestors of European cattle, indicating that a key part of the domestication process was the selection of cattle based on behavioral and meat traits.”

The study contradicts earlier simple models of cattle domestication and evolution that researchers proposed based on mitochondrial DNA or Y chromosomes.

“What now emerges from high-resolution studies of the nuclear genome is a more nuanced picture of crossbreeding and gene flow between domestic cattle and wild aurochs as early European farmers moved into new habitats such as Britain during the Neolithic,” Dr MacHugh concluded.

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Stephen D.E. Park et al. 2015. Genome sequencing of the extinct Eurasian wild aurochs, Bos primigenius, illuminates the phylogeography and evolution of cattle. Genome Biology 16: 234; doi: 10.1186/s13059-015-0790-2

http://www.sci-news.com/genetics/science-genome-eurasian-wild-aurochs-bos-primigenius-03377.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+BreakingScienceNews+%28Breaking+Science+News%29


In an annual roundup on Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake, about 775 bison are corralled and vaccinated.

The morning sky had turned to pink and it was to time to saddle up, so Benedikt Preisler, 59, strode across this grassy island to make use of the riding boots and cowboy hat he had bought the day before. “The outfit,” said Mr. Preisler, a German tourist standing in a sea of 10-gallon hats, “is necessary.”

It was the annual Antelope Island bison roundup, a Utah tradition that brings together seasoned cowboys and wide-eyed neophytes for a weekend of Western romance. Participants camp out on this island in the Great Salt Lake and spend a day on horseback chasing hundreds of bison toward corrals, where the animals are given vaccinations and about 200 are readied for sale. (The auctioned animals later become burgers, steaks and jerky.)

The event attracts local ranchers toting well-worn bullwhips as well as urban desk workers craving respite from the tyranny of the computer. For some, it is the only opportunity to interact with bison — those iconic, furry, fast-moving ungulates that are often called American buffalo and once numbered in the tens of millions before they were decimated by early settlers.

The annual roundup on Antelope Island has become a draw for seasoned cowboys as well as tourists.

“I’m a surgeon — it’s very boring compared to this,” said Paul Olive, 57, who drove 1,300 miles from Springfield, Mo., for the event. “It is an adrenaline rush to be on a horse, chasing a wild buffalo. Because it can be very dangerous.”

Antelope Island is a rugged, salt-ringed expanse just an hour’s drive from Salt Lake City, and its eastern shore faces the city’s twinkling skyline. The island’s bison are the descendants of 12 animals transported by boat to the island in 1893 by frontiersmen who sought to protect a few of the endangered animals — and turn a profit — by creating a hunting reserve for the wealthy. By 1926, it cost $300 to shoot one of the animals — the equivalent of about $4,000 today.

Today, about 775 bison are on the island, making them one of the oldest and largest publicly owned bison herds in the nation. And the island is now a state park teeming with native creatures, including pronghorn antelope.

Park rangers began the roundup and auction in 1986 to ensure that the animals did not overrun the island. Pulling a move from Tom Sawyer, officials billed the task as entertainment, and began inviting the public to help.

The roundup was added to tourist booklets, and the 1991 movie “City Slickers” — starring Billy Crystal as a New Yorker out West — helped popularize the idea of a cowboy vacation.

This year’s roundup took place on Friday. Standing in a dew-kissed field, Mr. Preisler explained that he had flown from Germany just for the ride after learning about the event during a business trip to Utah last year. His horse, Joe, was a rental.

Nearby, an experienced horseman named Dean Holliday, 83, said he had worked the event since its inception and lived just a few miles away.

“Touch of the old West,” said Mr. Holliday, who had brought two grandsons along. One, a professional photographer, circled the scene with an elaborate camera rig, treating his grandfather — in a neckerchief and a cowboy hat — as if he were the star of a Western epic.

Participants of the roundup spend a day on horseback chasing hundreds of bison toward corrals.

“One of these days I’m going to hang up my spurs,” Mr. Holliday added. “And these guys are going to continue on.”

During a brief orientation, roundup leaders explained that the group would flank nearby clusters of bison and chase them north for several miles. Shouts and skyward whip cracks were appropriate means of coercion. Off limits were guns, iPods and attempts to touch the animals.

Weighing up to 2,000 pounds, bison look like bears but run more like gazelles, reaching speeds of 30 or even 40 miles an hour, and they will occasionally charge at agitators. Horses are occasionally gored.

“These animals are wild, and they don’t do exactly what you want them to,” said Chad Bywater, 40, a longtime participant, explaining that cattle roundups tend to be far tamer.

Twelve bison, also known as American buffalo, were first brought to Antelope Island in 1893 as part of a plan to create a hunting refuge for the wealthy.

A local news team readied a drone to capture video, and the 250 or so riders set off, traveling up steep hills and across plains of yellow grass, galloping behind the bison.

At one point, the animals turned on the riders, forcing a brief retreat. At another, a bison broke from the herd and went careering toward tourists watching from the roadside. Onlookers raced to their minivans, pulling binoculars behind them.

By 1 p.m., the riders had the bison in the corrals, clicking fence doors shut. It was the fastest roundup anyone could remember.

Tyra Canary, 46, a fraud detection analyst from a nearby suburb, called the ride “therapy.” “I watch your credit card for fraud eight hours a day, five days a week,” she said. “It’s really good to just get out in the sun.”

Horses lapped from a trough. Men with chaps and handlebar mustaches recounted the morning’s exploits and planned for the evening campout.

Mr. Preisler, the German visitor, dismounted and declared the ride a success. “You should do it once in a lifetime,” he said.

A night in a tent, however, was not on the itinerary. “No — oh, God, no,” he said, explaining that he had opted for the comfort of a nearby hotel.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/26/us/wanted-bison-herders-for-an-annual-roundup-in-utah-tenderfoots-welcome.html

By Jethro Mullen

Visitors to Yellowstone Park seem to be having trouble taking in the message that it’s not a good idea to get too close to the wild bison that roam the wilderness.

The latest person to find out the hard way is a 43-year-old Mississippi woman who tried to take a selfie with one of the hairy beasts near a trail on Tuesday.

She and her daughter turned their backs to the bison, which was about 6 yards away, to take a photo with it, according to the National Park Service.

“They heard the bison’s footsteps moving toward them and started to run, but the bison caught the mother on the right side, lifted her up and tossed her with its head,” the park service said in a statement Wednesday.

Her family drove her from the site of the attack, near the Fairy Falls trailhead, to the Old Faithful Clinic in the park for treatment. She was released with minor injuries.

The woman is the fifth person injured after approaching a bison in Yellowstone so far this season — and the third whose dangerous encounter resulted from photo-taking.

Park authorities make an effort to warn people not to get too close to animals.

“The family said they read the warnings in both the park literature and the signage, but saw other people close to the bison, so they thought it would be OK,” said Colleen Rawlings, a ranger in the park’s Old Faithful District. “People need to recognize that Yellowstone wildlife is wild, even though they seem docile. This woman was lucky that her injuries were not more severe.”

A 16-year-old girl from Taiwan was gored by a bison in May while posing for a photo near Old Faithful, Yellowstone’s famous geyser. She suffered serious but not life-threatening injuries from the attack.

And a 62-year-old Australian man was taking pictures within 5 feet of a bison near Old Faithful Lodge on June 2 when the animal charged and tossed him into the air several times, according to park officials. He was taken to a hospital for further medical treatment.

Park authorities instruct visitors not to go within 25 yards of bison and other large animals — and 100 yards away from bears and wolves.

“Bison can sprint three times faster than humans can run and are unpredictable and dangerous,” park officials warn.

On June 23, a 19-year-old Georgia woman was walking with friends to their car after a late-night swim in the Firehole River when they saw a bison lying about 10 feet away. The animal charged the teen and tossed her in the air, leaving her with minor injuries, the park service said.

Just over a week later, a 68-year-old Georgia woman was hospitalized after being attacked by a bison while hiking on Storm Point Trail.

As the woman passed the bison, it charged and gored her. She was taken by helicopter ambulance to a hospital outside the park.

Almost 5,000 bison live in Yellowstone, the only place in the United States where the animals have lived continuously since prehistoric times.

https://itsinterestingdotcom.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php

Bison attacked two more visitors at Yellowstone National Park over the past week, for a total of four attacks in the park so far this season.

A 68-year-old Georgia woman remained hospitalized Thursday after encountering a bison while hiking Wednesday on Storm Point Trail, according to the National Park Service.

As she passed the bison, it charged and gored her. A witness reported the attack to a nearby ranger leading a hike, who called for help. Due to the serious nature of the woman’s injuries, she was taken by helicopter ambulance to a hospital outside the park. Her condition was unknown Thursday.

The other incident happened on June 23, when a 19-year-old Georgia woman and three friends who work at nearby Canyon Village were walking to their car after a late-night swim at the Firehole River. They saw a bison lying about 10 feet away, and one friend turned and ran. But the animal charged the teen and “tossed her in the air,” the park service said.

After the teen went to bed, she awoke a short time later feeling ill and called for medical help. She took an ambulance to a hospital outside the park and “was released with minor injuries later that day,” the park service said.

Four incidents in less than two months is a lot more than usual, Yellowstone spokeswoman Amy Bartlett said. “We usually have one to two incidents per year,” she said.

Almost 5,000 bison live in Yellowstone, located mostly in Wyoming and the only place in the United States where the animals have lived continuously since prehistoric times.

Yellowstone’s regulations require visitors to stay at least 25 yards away from all large animals and 100 yards away from bears and wolves. “Bison can sprint three times faster than humans can run and are unpredictable and dangerous,” park officials warn.

Some tourists may provoke animals by getting too close to them. The consequences of treating wild animals like they’re domesticated or in a zoo can be deadly, officials say.

On June 2, a 62-year-old Australian man visiting Yellowstone was seriously injured after getting too close to a bison near Old Faithful Lodge.

The man was reportedly within 5 feet of the bison while taking pictures when the animal charged him and tossed him into the air several times, according to park reports. The man was taken to a hospital for further medical treatment.

On May 15, a 16-year-old Taiwanese girl was gored by a bison while posing for a photo near Old Faithful, Yellowstone’s famous geyser. She had been hiking near the bison, which was grazing next to a trail.

The girl suffered serious but not life-threatening injuries from the attack, the park service said.

http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/02/travel/yellowstone-bison-attacks-feat/index.html

By Laura Zuckerman

Montana wildlife managers are asking the public to weigh in on a plan that could see the state establish a herd of wild bison that originated at Yellowstone National Park.

The state for three years has crafted measures that would need to be in place for the return of a publicly managed wild bison herd to Montana after a decades-long absence, state Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman Tom Palmer said on Friday.

The agency has opened a 90-day comment period for proposals that range from taking no steps to restore bison to the landscape to reintroducing them on private or public acreage where there would be less competition with livestock for grass and a lower threat of disease transmission.

The state is not pinpointing where bison might be restored, Palmer said.

The options floated by the state come less than a year after it gave 145 bison that originated at Yellowstone National Park – which spans parts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho – to a Native American tribe in Montana to further the conservation of the country’s last herd of wild, purebred bison.

Those animals had been quarantined to create a herd free of a disease, brucellosis, that could be transmitted to cows and cause them to miscarry.

The brucellosis-free band was later confined to a Montana ranch owned by media mogul Ted Turner before the state Fish and Wildlife Commission approved giving the animals to the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.

Bison that wander out of Yellowstone into neighboring Montana in winter in a search for food have been targeted for capture or death by government officials because roughly half the herd has been exposed to brucellosis.

Montana wildlife managers will make no firm plans before assessing the public response. Systematic hunting reduced the nation’s vast wild herds to the fewer than 50 of the animals that found sanctuary at Yellowstone in the early 20th century.

Jay Bodner, natural resource director for Montana Stockgrowers Association, said the industry would seek to ensure that any projects eyed by the state spelled out how the massive creatures would be contained or fenced to prevent them from damaging private property and mingling with livestock.

http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2015/0613/Montana-considers-releasing-wild-bison-outside-Yellowstone