The last time a bison was born in a wild habitat east of the Mississippi River was in the 1830s. This month, 95 miles west of Chicago, history was reset on a patch of restored prairie grass.
The historic birth is thrilling news for the Nature Conservancy working in Illinois since the 1980s to restore the Nachusa Grasslands. They finally reintroduced the vital last piece of the puzzle, a wild bison herd, last October.
Cody says the mother and calf “looked great” but no one’s tried to get close to them. So far, they’ve only monitored the baby’s progress through binoculars–and camera lenses, with the Conservancy releasing high resolution photos last week.
“The goal is to allow the bison to be bison.” Cody explained. “Between our two bison units they have 1,500 acres of prairie to roam, and aside from the annual round up and veterinary check, they will breed, birth, and care for themselves 364 days a year.”
The newest addition, along with other baby bison expected later this spring, will further the prairie restoration work to come. Through their natural grazing behavior, they help keep grasses in check while creating a mosaic of habitats that allow a wide range of wild flowers, birds, mammals, plants, insects and amphibians to flourish
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