The Bison Are Back!

Photo by Mike Laughton Photo by Mike Laughton.

We’re excited to announce that a herd of 40 male juvenile bison from NorthStar Bison in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, have arrived at Belwin Conservancy. These young bison will spend their summer grazing 120 acres of our prairie, aerating the soil, and creating wallows to collect water for themselves as well as the birds and other wildlife that cohabitate the prairie with them.

Photo by Mike Laughton Photo by Mike Laughton.

Although it was 42 degrees F and the wind was blowing a torrent of freezing rain, nearly 350 people waited eagerly underneath their umbrellas at Belwin’s Bison Observation Platform for the release of the bison.

Photo by Greg Seitz Photo by Greg Seitz

The attendees’ patience was rewarded as three trailers from NorthStar parked on Belwin’s restored Croixview Prairie and the doors were thrown open, allowing the pent up, 700 pound bison to charge off their transport and rush to explore their summer home of luxurious green prairie. (The bison arrive at Belwin weighing between 650 and 700 pounds and will leave weighing between 850 and 1,000 pounds, a 30 percent increase in their weight. Each animal eats approximately 30 pounds of grass per day.)

Video by Greg Seitz.

Bison from NorthStar have been coming to Belwin Conservancy since 2008, playing a critical role in land management and restoration activities, as well as public education. “Since I became the land and facilities manager at Belwin, I’ve seen that the bison actually do a better job managing the prairie than anything we humans can do,” Justin Sykora said. “The response of the flowers and grasses has been better than we could have hoped. The diversity of the prairie has greatly improved since the bison have been coming. They are modifying our management strategy.”

Photo by Mike Laughton Photo by Mike Laughton.

Sean Graese of NorthStar Bison explained the importance of the partnership with Belwin. “Our relationship with Belwin is really the heartbeat of NorthStar and what bison, as a species, is all about: Restoration and regeneration. Restoring healthy ecosystems, healthy people and, ultimately, a healthy, thriving species. When you have that, everyone wins,” he said.

Come visit the bison and discover what a prairie ecosystem is all about! The Bison Observation Platform is free and open to the public. Get information and directions here. >>