Conservation plans are taking a step forward, with eleven bison set free in a Minnesota State Park near Mankato, where the rare animals will be making a new home for themselves and hopefully help boost their population. The favorable conditions of the park grounds has made it a perfect place to see the small herd grow in numbers.
- The herd of eleven were released within the Minneopa State Park on September 25th
- Conservationists hope that their numbers will grow to an optimistic 40 within the grounds
- They present with rare genetic structure, only found in 6% of their North American population
- The park will be closed until the middle of October, so the animals can get used to their new environment
The last wild bison seen in the wilds in Minnesota was back in 1880, in Norman County, and they had since been in rapid decline due to farmers killing them off in most encounters. It had forced the animals to run away to Dakota, and their presence has been severely reduced since.
According to Tony Fisher, animal collector manager from the Minnesota Zoo, who was part of the partnership to restore the bison herds, they have been driven from a population of 20 million to just under 1,000 in the 1800s.
Their slow and gradual return to the state started in 1961, and now still have low number of 90 that they hope to expand to 500 soon enough.
Within the last four years, both the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Minnesota Zoo have been working together to preserve and reinstate the American bison as part of national parks. This group of eleven feature even rarer qualities, as they have been DNA tested in order to ascertain that some of them are not the result of cattle cross-breeding.
In fact, out of the estimated 500,000 bison, less than 20,000 can be said to share that genetic structure, which accounts for approximately 6% of the total population of bison in North America.
Out of the eleven, eight of them were brought from the Blue Mound State Park and the other three from the Minnesota Zoo, in the hopes that they will soon bring their population to 30 or 40 around the prairie grounds.
The effort has been in plan for years and they have been preparing for months before they released the small herd to boost their population, help manage the land, draw the attention of more than 200,000 people living with 50 miles of the park, and possible research on the rare animal.
Visitors will soon be allowed to drive through the roads of the Minneopa State Park, but they are asked to be patient until the bison herd will better acclimatize themselves with their new surroundings. The campgrounds will be closed until mid-October, in order to allow the animals to better understand the lands and hopefully make it their welcoming new home.
Image source: animal-dream.com