It’s a little early still to be worrying about any of the winter holidays, but the bison in Grasslands National Park are turning heads with thoughts of cooler weather to come. For their prairie dog co-habitators, it’s a completely different tactic to surviving the chilly winds.
Last year, the first snow fell at the end of October. For the varied animals in Grasslands, managing the change of seasons comes in different ways. All prairie dog species will store fat to use for sustenance during the winter months and will stay below ground in their intricate tunnel systems. White-tails are known to hibernate for many months, but the black-tailed Prairie Dogs of Grasslands will often come up to forage for food on warmer days.
Bison on the other hand, brave the cold above ground. They start by growing a thick winter coat. In fact, the bison’s winter coat is so thick and well insulated that snow can cover their backs without melting. In winter, bison can dig through deep snow with their heads to reach the vegetation below.