Go West Young Man, and take a ROM Employee with you

Posted: September 6, 2012 - 10:47 , by Nicole Richards

I’ve just come back from Grasslands National Park with the Grand Prize Winner of the Find the Baby Bison contest, Alexander Muth. I’m the lucky ROM employee chosen to accompany him and his family on the trip (actually no luck involved at all, it was an arm wrestling competition and I’m stronger than I look).

Members of The Bison Collaborative present the Muth Family with their ticket to Grasslands National Park

So why did 4 environmental education organizations get together to bring attention to Bison and the grassland ecosystems in which they live?

The simple answer is that grasslands are cool – and I’ve got the pictures to prove it!

While on a Black-tailed Prairie Dog town Alexander and Isaac spot a Plains Bison in the distance

Sunset over grasslands

The more complex answer is that grassland habitats around the world are in danger of disappearing altogether, and with them we risk losing forever lots of amazing plants and animals. It’s one of the reasons this ecosystem is highlighted in the Life in Crisis: Schad Gallery of Biodiversity here at the ROM.

Grasslands National Park protects this important ecosystem, and contains the best example of native prairie left in Canada. As such, its home to a number of prairie species that are at risk of vanishing, either in Canada or completely. We were really lucky to see a number of these. On the top of my list is the Greater Short-horned Lizard. I can’t tell you how amazing it was to see this rare critter scurrying around in the prairie sun.

Greater Short-horned Lizard, Phrynosoma hernandesi

Walking in silver sagebrush, exploring a place where animals like the Pronghorn Antelope and the Black-footed Ferret still roam in Canada is a memory that is sure to stay with Alexander, his brothers, and this lucky ROM employee.