Effects of winter road grooming on bison in YNP

Journal of Wildlife Management
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Abstract

The effects of winter recreation—specifically snowmobiling—on wildlife in Yellowstone National Park (YNP) have become high-profile management issues. The road grooming needed to support oversnow travel in YNP is also being examined for its effects on bison (Bison bison) ecology. Data were collected from November 1997 through May 1998 and from December 1998 through May 1999 on the effects of road grooming on bison in Madison–Gibbon–Firehole (MGF) area of YNP Peak bison numbers occurred during late March—early April and were strongly correlated with the snow water equivalent measurements in the Hayden Valley area (1997–1998: r* = 0.62, p:0.001: 1998–1999: r2 = 0.64, P-0.001). Data from an infrared trail monitor on the Mary Mountain trail between the Hayden and Firehole valleys suggest that this trail is the sole corridor for major bison distributional shifts between these locations. Of the 28,293 observations of individual bison made during the study, 8% were traveling and 69% were foraging. These percentages were nearly identical during the period of winter road grooming (7% and 68%, respectively). During this period, 77% of bison foraging activity and 12% of bison traveling activity involved displacing snow. Most travel took place off roads (P<0.001), Bison utilized geothermal features, a network of trails they established, and river and stream banks for travel. Bison road use was negatively correlated with road grooming, with peak use in April and lowest use during the road-grooming period. Bison in the MGF area of YNF neither seek out nor avoid groomed roads. The minimal use of roads compared to off-road areas, the short distances traveled on the roads, the decreased use of roads during the over snow vehicle (OSV) season, and the increased costs of negative interactions with OSVs suggest that grooming roads during winter does not have a major influence on bison ecology.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Effects of winter road grooming on bison in YNP
Series title Journal of Wildlife Management
Volume 65
Issue 3
Year Published 2001
Language English
Publisher Wildlife Society
Publisher location Washington
Contributing office(s) Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center
Description 13 p.
First page 560
Last page 572
Country United States
State Wyoming
Other Geospatial Yellowstone National Park
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N