Wamákȟaškaŋ: Finding Food in Winter

A coworker of mine in another city, who grew up in the tropics, reacted with shock when I sent her a picture of a bison standing in deep snow, digging to get to the grasses below for a meal.

“Don’t they hibernate during the cold months?” she asked.

I won’t get into the biology of which animals do or don’t hibernate, and why. But I do want to talk about the amount of food resources that are still out there, even even the landscape is covered with a thick layer of white snow. Many animals neither hibernate nor migrate, but find enough plant and other food resources to make it through the winter in the Dakotas.

Pheasants eating crabapples outside the Catholic Church in Fort Yates:


(Pheasants are actually not indigenous to North America. Most crabapples aren’t, either, although I have heard from Linda Black Elk that this variety resembles a type that is.)

I didn’t get any more good photos of animals eating this winter, but some small birds are also active:

And also feral cats (left – not native) and rabbits (right – native species).The herbivores find enough wild plant resources to get through the winter. And the cats and other carnivores…well, they will go for most of the herbivores mentioned above. 

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