South Dakota bison roundup
Officials from the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve are in South Dakota this week watching as a herd of wild bison is gathered for them to bring back to Kansas.
Still to come
Check LJWorld.com 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.
Wind Cave National Park, S.D. 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.