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Extremely rare white bison calf spotted in Yellowstone National Park

White bison are seen as sacred by most Native American tribes, and are often referred to as "spirit bison" or "ghost bison."
Rare white bison calf spotted in Yellowstone National Park
Posted at 4:23 PM, Jun 10, 2024

An extremely rare white bison calf was captured on camera in Yellowstone National Park last week by a photographer who happened to be visiting the park with her family right after it was born.

The white bison calf — said to be 1 in 10 million — was spotted in the Lamar Valley area of the park, located in its northwestern corner.

Erin Braaten, a photographer from Kalispell, Montana, snapped the photos while visiting the park with her family on Tuesday. The pics were taken just moments after the calf was born.

Braaten said she visits Yellowstone two or three times a year but has never stumbled upon anything like this.

"I couldn’t believe what I was seeing," she said. "It was so surreal. I just knew it was something special and one of the coolest things I’ve ever photographed."

Braaten said she initially thought the calf was a coyote because of its rare color.

White bison are seen as sacred by several Native American tribes, and are often referred to as "spirit bison" or "ghost bison." However, some believe they are a symbol of evil, according to Ozark Valley Bison Farm in Arkansas.

The rare color could be a result of albinism, a genetic condition in which an animal lacks pigmentation, or it could be from leucism, in which an animal has some pigmentation but is still white.

White bison calf at Yellowstone National Park
White bison calf at Yellowstone National Park
White bison calf at Yellowstone National Park
White bison calf at Yellowstone National Park
White bison calf at Yellowstone National Park
White bison calf at Yellowstone National Park
White bison calf at Yellowstone National Park
White bison calf at Yellowstone National Park

This story was originally published by Keagan Harsha at Scripps News Billings.