SERVICE BISON 2022
Press release issue date: March 31, 2022
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With post-pandemic’s “Vengeance Travel” at full speed, the state of Wyoming and Yellowstone are expecting some of the highest traffic volumes in decades. With Yellowstone National Park already established as a key USA travel destination, this summer Park traffic will be compounded by the newly implemented Service Bison program. Not since the re-introduction of the American Wolf has there been such buzz about animal awareness.
Perfectly timed alongside Yellowstone National Park’s 150th anniversary in 2022, the United States Park Service and the United Wildlife Federation are excited to announce the addition of the newly launched “SERVICE BISON PROGRAM” in collaboration with Surf Wyoming.
“We are very excited about this development as it gives us the foundation to better monitor the interaction between humans and our delicately trained Service Bison. We’ve spent the better half of 2021 integrating a total of 22 bison into the newly implemented “Service Bison Program” said Jilly West, Director of Animal Introductions with the U.S. Park Service. West states that “we are thrilled with our partnership with the team at Surf Wyoming who will be manufacturing the scientifically designed bison vests alongside a collection of collectible merchandise in commemoration.”
This project has been in the works for about the last decade and while we’d initially targeted a launch date two summers ago, we were delayed by the pandemic and put “Service Bison Program” on hold for about a full year. We spent a lot of time establishing the criteria for the program and to ensure that safety was our #1 priority to both the animals and humans. It’s also taken us extra time to design a specific vest with the team at Surf Wyoming that fit the bison in an organic manner.
Vest development utilizes science and learnings from apparel designed for Olympic athletes. Vests have a UV rating of 40+ and incorporate a moisture transfer technology to nurture thermal equilibrium which mimic the bison’s physiology. This helps increase stamina and accelerate muscle recovery in each bison encouraging cells to produce more oxygen.
Each vest is made from 100% organic, chemical-free soft cotton, is completely seamless and is dyed red naturally using petals derived from our very own state flower, Wyoming’s Indian Paintbrush. “This vest is like an extension of the bison’s body, completely comfortable for the animals and the textile dying process gives each vest a deep red coloration that is highly visible.”
The United States Park Service Director, Kevin Costnaah said he believes that the addition of the “Service Bison Program” will be a massive attraction for visitors and will hopefully keep folks from crowding the wild bison and other wildlife in the park, as is typical.
We’ll provide additional animal education and safety for Park visitors which should also keep guests from getting injured due to making bad decisions when in proximity. We do hope that people will leave the wild bison be, but it is inevitable that people will want to see them and get close to them and we’ll continue to encourage distancing in the wild.” Costnaah states.
The small and popular western town of Cody, Wyoming at the East entrance to Yellowstone is also excited for the introduction. Cody Mayor, Matt Hall spoke to us last week and said, “our community saw big drive traffic last summer into the eastern entrance of the park through Cody. We are encouraged by early tourism data and know that people love the wide open spaces that Wyoming and Yellowstone provide to travelers. The introduction of the Service Bison program will allow for a new level of wildlife intimacy and education which should amplify the travel numbers, something we are very pleased about.”
Surf Wyoming, a lifestyle apparel retail attraction with its flagship store in Sheridan and other route-to-Yellowstone-outpost Cody boasts stores in Casper, Cheyenne and Powell and have already begun producing and selling in stores as the official apparel for the “Service Bison Program”.
We stopped into their Cody location while interviewing for this story and to pick up a few Service Bison items and ran into John Parsons, a realtor at 307 Real Estate and a member of Cody’s Travel and Tourism board. He was buying the Service Bison merchandise for some new clients. “I come in here often to try and get my hands on some of these new Bison tees and stickers, but they are flying off the shelves. I can say, we haven’t had this much excitement around Cody since Buffalo Bill came to town, and I am almost old enough to remember that!” All routes to Wyoming this summer are going to be open and crowded, and all of the Wyomingites we spoke to for this story are excited and ready for the traffic.
INTERESTING FACTS & INFORMATION ABOUT YELLOWSTONE BISON
Bison are the largest land-dwelling mammal in North America and may live 12-15 years (up to 20)
Males can weigh up to 2,000 lbs and are larger than females (1,100 lbs)
Both genders are generally dark chocolate-brown in color, with long hair on their forelegs, head, and shoulders, but short, dense hair (1 in) on their flanks and hindquarters.
Bison feed primarily on grasses and sedges
Bison mating season: July and August, calves are born in late April or May.
Calves are reddish-tan at birth and begin turning dark brown after 2-½ months.
Both genders have relatively short horns that curve upward. Male’s are slightly longer than females
Bison have a protruding shoulder hump.
Bison are agile, strong swimmers, and are unexpectedly fast and can run 35+ MPH (55 kph).
They can scale up to 5 feet (1.5 m) and have excellent hearing, vision, and sense of smell.
5,450 bison accounted for in summer 2021 (YNP) via two primary breeding herds: Northern (~4,100) and Central (~1,300).
Bison or Buffalo?!?!? In North America, both “bison” and “buffalo” refer to the American bison (Bison bison). Generally, “buffalo” is used informally; “bison” is preferred for more formal or scientific purposes. Early European explorers called this animal by many names. Historians believe that the term “buffalo” grew from the French word for beef, “boeuf.” Some insist that the term “buffalo” is incorrect because the “true” buffalo exist on other continents and are only distant relatives.
Yellowstone is the only place in the lower 48 states to have a continuously free-ranging bison population since prehistoric times.
If you’ve read this far then HAPPY APRIL FOOL'S DAY - the human merchandise is really real and you can find it all by clicking HERE - but please keep your distance to wildlife! :)
The best relationship with wild animals is a long distance relationship.
In all seriousness, please use an abundance caution when in the presence of wildlife. Wild animals are dangerous. Do not NEVER approach or feed a wild animal. If you see wildlife, pull over safely and in a designated area to watch safely from inside your vehicle or a designated and safely distanced wildlife viewing area.