Reintroduction of Bison to Iowa: Bison Diary, Entry #5

First Calf Born: April 20, 2009

Ever since we established this herd here at our Broken Kettle Grassland Preserve we knew we had a great chance at having some calves this spring. With a herd of this size, you’d expect that we’d have between 8–10 calves starting in mid-April through June. We noticed that one of our cows was missing from the herd on April 17.

Bison typically take off and calve on their own, so we weren’t surprised when she returned to the herd the next day with her calf. It’s a pretty thick little calf and it’s really mobile. It’s moving around the pasture and following the herd. The cow is nursing. We’ll let them do their thing.

This is really exciting. This is the first bison born at Broken Kettle. That makes this calf the first bison born on native prairie in Iowa in more than a century and a half — at least within a herd established for conservation.

It tells a lot about the condition of both the prairie and the herd. We moved these bison 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.

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