For any form of wildlife to exist in an area, the animals require food, water, some form of protective cover, and adequate space. Most warm-bloodied animals must have a continuous supply of food to provide energy for motion and to maintain body heat. I encountered a number of the large mammals on my recent travel through the American West. While some warm-blooded animals, like bears, hibernate in the winter, other animals migrate from one location to another to obtain food throughout the year. To allow for the long migrations of these animals, individuals and agencies are establishing corridors for the animals to safely travel. One of these corridors involves Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, and the lands connecting the parks. These corridors allow elk, bison, pronghorn antelope, mountain goats, and bighorn sheep to pass between areas that otherwise would be wildlife islands. The wildlife food is comprised principally grasses, but also includes browse of twigs and wildflowers. I observed a mule deer consume large amounts of flowering plants, pollinated by solitary native bees. Today’s picture shows a bison dominating a road in Yellowstone National Park. Bison use their massive head and their shoulder muscles to dig into deep snow to find plant material. Its presence is evidence of the results of years of conservation efforts.
Cold-blooded animals have an advantage in that they can survive in an area that does not have a continuous supply of food. The animal’s body temperature remains the same as its surroundings. Fish, reptiles, amphibians, and insects are cold-blooded creatures. The honey bee is a unique insect that can generate body heat. It derives energy to produce this heat from eating honey which it gets from flowering plants. The bees pollinate the plants and assist in their reproduction. The flowering plants contribute greatly to the food available for wildlife. The wildlife corridors make for greatly enhanced habitat and forage areas for animals, large and small. Animals from bison to bees benefit.--Richard