In Minnesota, 11 genetically rare female bison were reintroduced to Minneopa State Park’s prairie land in huge victory for bison conservation efforts across the United States.
During the 19th century, bison numbers went from the tens of millions to just under 1,000 when conservation efforts began in the form of small herds found in Yellowstone National Park and the Bronx Zoo.
The video below holds the story of a celebratory win for a bison herd in Minnesota, recently released into the prairie land of the Minneopa State Park.
Three of the female bison released were from the Minnesota Zoo, and eight were from Blue Mound State Park near Luverne, Minnesota.
The eight taken from Blue Mounds State Park herd were genetically tested from 2011 to 2013 and were found to be overall free of any genetic material that would result from cross-breeding, making these bison rare in that less than 20,000 bison of the 500,000 count across the country is this genetically pure.
The hope for the project is that eventually the herd will grow to include 30 to 40 bison roaming the park in the prairie lands. In addition, the bison herd will help to reshape the landscape of the state park as bison once played an important role in the ecology of the Great Plains.
Their grass-grazing habit leads to an increase in prairie dog population as prairie dogs prefer shorter grass to escape from predators, and the wallowing habit of bison will lead to crater-like holes in the earth, similar to what the plains looked like centuries ago when bison roamed wild.
This side of the park in particular won’t open for a few weeks to ensure that the bison have acclimated and adapted to their new home.
Overall, this is a fantastic victory for all conservation efforts and I personally can’t wait to travel to see the massive bison laying happily in their muddy wallow pits.