The incessant rain on Saturday kept me from riding, so I was very happy to wake up Sunday morning and find that there was no rain in the forecast. I was taking a co-rider who was riding with me for the first time, so I decided to “initiate” her with the Big Bone Lick /Rabbit Hash Run. Its not too far from Cincinnati, with plenty of curvy roads and is scenic enough. She enjoyed the ride very much. The highlight of the excursion, however, was not the ride itself but my first sighting of the great North American Bison at Big Bone Lick state park.
The North American bison is the largest land animal in North America. Bison once roamed freely on the plains, prairies and river valleys in western Canada and the United States, but were hunted to near extinction in the late 19th century. In 1800, it was estimated there were forty million bison, by 1883 there were no wild bison in the United States. By 1900, there were less than six hundred left in North America. The majority of the forty million animals were killed in a fifty-five year period, beginning in 1830. With the passing of the bison protection law in 1894, game preserves were established that have ensured the survival of the bison. Today, only about 150,000 bison remain, confined to a few scattered reserves.
Up close, the male bison is an impressive beast, the larger ones up to six feet tall hoof-to-shoulder, weighing about 2000 pounds and sporting a shaggy beard. At the park we saw one such bull, several smaller females and some calves. Although the bull looked slow and clumsy as he labored his way to the water trough for a drink, bison are known to be quick on their feet (hooves!) when pursued. Do check back in a few weeks for original pictures of the American bison. Meanwhile, here is a picture I found using Google Images.