First Bison Calves in 150 Years Born on Native Iowa Prairie

bison calf photo
photo: Nature Conservancy

One more example of the benefits of conservation: For the first time in 150 years bison calves has been born on native prairie in Iowa, within a herd bred for conservation and that has never been interbred with cattle. It all happened at the largest remaining area of prairie in Iowa, the Broken Kettle Grassland. talked with the director of stewardship at Broken Kettle on why this is so significant. Here's an excerpt: Congratulations on the first bison calves born at Broken Kettle Grasslands Preserve! What does this tell you about the condition of the prairie and the herd?
Scott Moats: It tells me that our prairie is healthy and diverse enough to support our bison herd, to meet their demands in terms of forage abundance, availability and quality.
We moved them from South Dakota last year and we had a pretty tough winter here in Iowa. That they’re able to calve tells me the forage is adequate and everything they need is here. They should be able to thrive and do what we want them to do ecologically. The bison at Broken Kettle are considered genetically valuable. What does that mean?
Scott Moats: This herd shows no signs of cattle introgression, which makes it valuable in terms of genetic conservation of the species. There are only two known herds that show no signs of cattle genes — those herds are at Wind Cave National Park and Yellowstone.

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Tags: Animals | Conservation | United States


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