Butterflies and bison: Refuge cautions community heading into summer
LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - The weather is warming up, making those outdoor trips all the more enticing. This is the time of year where the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge will see more visitors than normal, but first there’s a few things to be mindful of.
Mary Ruth Prose, a volunteer at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, said we’re seeing more butterflies because there are even more flowers than usual.
She said she has been going to the refuge since the 1970′s and has never seen so many wildflowers. While the flowers are beautiful, she said people shouldn’t pick them.
“We’ve had people come out here and pick wildflowers. We absolutely forbid that, for two reason,” said Prose. “Number one, it doesn’t allow them to re-seed. If the wildflower is gone it can’t reseed. Number two, it’s eliminating a nectar source for bees, and butterflies, and humming birds.”
Prose said there are 176 species of butterfly just in Oklahoma. One of the more impressive breeds is the Monarch, and she said all you have to do to bring them to your home, is to plant more milk weed in your garden.
Another impressive animal you’ll find on the refuge is the American Bison. But it’s worth mentioning they’re equally dangerous as they are majestic.
Officials said signs to be wary of are a raised tail and if a bison has stopped grazing, you may be in danger.
“If they stop grazing, or stop doing their natural behaviors and they’re looking at you then you’re annoying them. You’re getting too close” said Quinton Smith, Park Ranger for the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. “If they’re shaking their head, or pawing the ground, those are also indicators that you’re too close, and you’re putting yourself in danger.”
They said if you’ve startled a bison, you should slowly back away from the animal, and try to get something between you, whether its a tree or a vehicle.
And it’s not just personal safety that should keep you from approaching the animals. In recent months, two bison in national parks have needed to be put down after interacting with humans.
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