Image of the Day: December 2013

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Credit: National Park Service
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Above: Warning: Bison in rear view mirror may be closer than they appear.

The driver of the car in the above undated photo found this out first-hand when the car was caught in a bison "traffic jam" in Yellowstone National Park.

The bison is the largest land mammal in North America. They can weigh more than half a ton. Despite their size, bison can run up to 30 mph (50 km/h). That's more than fast enough to keep up with traffic on wintery roads in Yellowstone.

This herd was large enough to intimidate, but it's a mere fraction of the Yellowstone bison population, which fluctuates between 2,300 and 4,500 animals. There are two subpopulations within Yellowstone bison, the Northern Range and Hayden Valley herds, which are divided based on their gathering for breeding.

Bison were nearly extinct in the 19th century due to hunting, slaughter and bovine diseases from domestic cattle. Today, Yellowstone is the only place in the lower 48 states where a population of wild bison has persisted since prehistoric times.

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