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Maura Bennett Bison Herd Flourishes
by Maura Bennett, click here for bio

Program: Colorado Ag Today
Date: July 11, 2019

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A team of scientists at Colorado State University, the City of Fort Collins and native peoples are celebrating the return of flourishing bison herds across the west.

Not long ago the City of Fort Collins released eight bison on the plains of the Soapstone Prairie Natural Area and the Red Mountain Open Space. CSU's Jennifer Barfield says the majestic animals eventually joined the rest of the Laramie Foothills Bison Conservation Herd.

The Laramie Foothills Bison Conservation Herd was established with nine females and one male calf in November 2015. The bison had valuable genetics from the Yellowstone National Park Herd and — thanks to scientists — the animals were also disease-free.

There are now 76 bison. The success of this conservation effort astounds even those closest to the project, including Barfield, who serves as the scientific lead and is a reproductive physiologist.

CSU produced video in which Barfield explains that their success has allowed the team to deliver two of the bulls to the Oakland Zoo and Montana's Blackfeet Nation.

"The plan for the bulls to be at the zoo for a few years. Their main job will be breeding so they can produce babies. Those babies will be going back to the Blackfeet Nation for their project. Ultimately those bulls will be going to the Blackfeet Nation to contribute to their project there on the open landscape in Montana."

Other partners include the Minnesota Zoo, which is helping to restore bison to some of the state park systems in that state, and the Pueblo of Pojoaque (poh-Wahk-ay) tribe in New Mexico, which manages bison on the Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge, in partnership with the Denver Zoo.

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