Archive for Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Herd of wild bison being moved from South Dakota to Kansas’ Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

A helicopter sweeps a herd of bison over a hill at Wind Cave National Park north of Hot Springs, SD.

A helicopter sweeps a herd of bison over a hill at Wind Cave National Park north of Hot Springs, SD.

October 20, 2009


Herd of wild bison being moved from South Dakota to Kansas’ Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

A team from the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Strong City this week is observing a buffalo roundup on the 44-square-mile Wind Cave National Park site in the Black Hills region of South Dakota. Enlarge video

Still to come

Check next Wednesday to see how the dangerous process of herding buffalo is done, and learn how Kansas leaders hope the new herd will improve the state’s prominence on the prairie.

— Leaders of a national park in the Kansas Flint Hills are close to completing a project to obtain a herd of wild bison for visitors of the park to see.

A team from the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Strong City this week is observing a buffalo roundup on the 44-square-mile Wind Cave National Park site in the Black Hills region of South Dakota.

The roundup is expected to capture about 20 wild bison — ranging in age from 1 to 2 1/2 years — to be shipped to the Flint Hills. The roundup is the first step in creating an eventual herd of about 100 bison that will roam parts of the 11,000-acre Tallgrass Prairie Preserve.

“We’re excited about it because a lot of people consider buffalo to be a real symbolic species of the prairie,” said Kristen Hase, chief of natural resources for the Flint Hills park. “We believe for visitors to be out there and see these animals on the landscape is going to be pretty neat.”

Plans call for the buffalo to be part of the park by early November. The herd of 20 will be confined to an 1,100-acre pasture on the park. The park’s regular tours are expected to go through the pasture to provide visitors a glimpse at the animals.

Other buffalo herds exist on private property in the Flint Hills, but this herd will be the easiest for the public to see, Hase said.

The bison are coming from a herd of about 525 buffalo on the Wind Cave site. The Wind Cave herd is one of only two federal herds in the country that have been genetically tested and shown to be free of any cattle DNA.

“If you want to get a sense of what the Plains were like thousands of years ago, these are the bison that will bring that back to you,” said Tom Farrell, a spokesman for Wind Cave.

The project to bring the bison to the Flint Hills is being completed as a partnership between The Nature Conservancy and the National Park Service. The nonprofit Nature Conservancy is purchasing the herd, but employees at the national park site will work to help care for the animals.

The bison are expected to be shipped back to Kansas within the next week, but first the animals must be tested for several types of diseases to ensure that they will not bring any types of viruses into the state that could harm the area’s livestock industry.


Scott Drummond 8 years ago

Nice story highlighting the improvement of our environment!! Would be nice if there were a hundred more similar opportunities for LJW writers.

Amy Heeter 8 years ago

This should be a nice place for a day trip.

GardenMomma 8 years ago

It is a nice place for a day trip. The Tallgrass Prairie is one of my favorite places to go. It's quiet and peaceful. There's not much traffic and the views are stunning!

tomatogrower 8 years ago

When I'm driving across Western Kansas, I try to imagine what it was like when the rolling hills would have been filled with a large buffalo herd. It must have been an impressive sight.

BMI 8 years ago

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blindrabbit 8 years ago

FINALLY!!!. I did volunteer work out there 10 years ago when the park was first being developed (what a great place). At that time the Flint Hills ranchers tried to block the introduction of bison onto the Park using the old brucellosis argument. Brucellosis is a bad situation for cattle, causing them to abort developing fetuses. The sad situation is that bison have never been known to be a host of cattle brucellosis disease. This same argument has allowed the States of Montana and Wyoming to allow shooting of any bison that dare set foot out of Yellowstone Park.

As a safety procedure, the bison should be vaccinated anyway. A bigger threat to the cattle industry is the pending move of the "Hoof and Mouth" disease research center from isolated (and safe) Plum Island, New York to Manhattan, Kansas. A release of this disease would be a disaster.

blindrabbit 8 years ago

Once this successfully accomplished, add some elk, and maybe mule deer they both were more "native" on the Kansas prairies than white tail deer. The whitetails have moved in as the prairie has become more forested, and the elk and mule deer forced Westward.

Jean1183 8 years ago

What about the pronghorn antelope restoration project in the Flint HIlls? I use to see antelope now & then as I traveled I-35 to Wichita. I haven't seen any in the last several years.

sfjayhawk 8 years ago

wow, a positive story out of Kansas is a nice change

puddleglum 8 years ago

its about time. I just hope that the refs don't give these buffaloes a bunch of b.s. 'offensive pass interference' calls

blindrabbit 8 years ago

puddle: Bison are not buffalo. To see them look up Cape Buffalo from Africa or Water Buffalo from Asia. Even CU made a mistake with their name. Not as bad as the Florida Gators using a crocodile's head insted of an alligator's as a mascot.

Jean1183: State Fish and Game gave up on the Pronhorn relocation in the Tall Grass Prairie of the Flint Hills. I heard that the young pronhorns were easily captured in tall grass by coyotes but do well in the Short Grass Prairies further West were they cannot be so easily ambushed. Don't really know if this is fully true!

Kathy Theis-Getto 8 years ago

That is a great drive down around Strong City and Cottonwood Falls. Stop and see the courthouse in CF while there,

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 8 years ago

... and Watson Park (with the locomotive) is just a stone's throw from the local burger serving up such grass-fed local delights as beef, pork, elk, buffalo ....

bigdave 8 years ago

Marion (Marion Lynn) says…

They could fence the park that the locomotive is in and ensconse two bison there.

Where would all the drunk bums sleep then?

BMI 8 years ago

Hey! I was only protecting Multi from cuzin-friendly-fire.

Roe, You've got the Wood Bison subspecies from Canada if I'm not mistaken. This is the ugly brute they are bringing down and that are already in the area. You can see them along the turnpike as well.

lounger 8 years ago

YES. The balance is coming back. It needs to keep growing. Good Karma!!!

Hoots 8 years ago

There is a herd of them on the property of Circle S ranch north of town. They pretty amazing creatures. You can sit of the porch there, have a cool beer, and watch them roam.

kansasmutt 8 years ago

I have been to Wind Cave park and seen the heard up there in SD. They are quite a bit differant than what we have around here now. They are larger and more prehistoric looking up close. If anyone has a chance to go to SD and visit Wind Cave and Custer park, you need to do it. It is like stepping back in time 150 years. I have to rate them at the top of my list to sites i would visit every year if i could. Hot Springs SD is an awesome town as well. Just a stones throw south of Sturgis , on some killer roads winding through the hills. Take a motorcycle, more fun than a car. Look out for the dern prairie dogs though, they are everyplace on the roads.

Glenda Breese 8 years ago

The Fint hills are one of the most pristine natural enviroments.This is awesome.Almost feel like a hundred years ago.

Boston_Corbett 8 years ago

I'm glad the helicopter is protecting the buffalo from the wild piggies.

Boston_Corbett 8 years ago

And in other news:

"After more than a century of rumors of mountain lions in Kansas, state wildlife biologists confirmed this week that a live mountain lion has been found in Kansas. . . ."

kmat 8 years ago

From the NBA (Natl Bison Assoc).

NOTE: Is it Buffalo or Bison? The American Buffalo is not a true buffalo. Its closest relative is the European Bison or Wisent and the Canadian Woods Bison, not the buffalo of Asia or Africa, such as the Cape Buffalo or Water Buffalo. Scientifically, the American Buffalo is named Bison and belongs to Bovidae family of mammals, as do domestic cattle. Because our history has so ingrained in us the name "Buffalo", we still use it, although "Bison" and "Buffalo" are used interchangeably.

Many more water buffalo (which are the true buffalo) and water buffalo products have recently found their way into the American markets. This has caused the Bison industry to rethink the term buffalo being applied to our "Bison" products. Therefore, the NBA encourages all Bison producers and marketers to use the name Bison to avoid confusion with water buffalo and to help inform the American public that Bison is indeed the American Buffalo they know and love.

BMI - whether they're Canadian Bison or American, they are all just subspecies of the North American Bison.

yourworstnightmare 8 years ago

Amazing. Kansas might finally have something that makes folks from other states and countries want to visit Kansas and pend their tourism dollars here.

Socialism, I tell you!

Jimo 8 years ago

"The bison are expected to be shipped back to Kansas within the next week,"

Oh! From the headline, I imagined a giant herd of bison rumbling south across Nebraska.

Jimo 8 years ago

Chortle. Chortle.

They were just making such an emphasis on the tourism aspect that, given the headline, it seemed reasonable to expect the spectacle of thundering herds rampaging across the Platte and I-80. That'd make CNN and the networks as certainly as stranded boys in flying saucer shaped balloons.

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