The bison’s grazing patterns and other behaviors are key components of grassland communities. The herd will shape the prairie, creating a range of habitats suitable for a wide array of native plant and animal species. Ecological processes that were lost when bison disappeared from the landscape will be restored, increasing native species diversity and improving habitat for grassland birds.
The bison will be managed in a safe, respectful manner which emulates natural herd structures as closely as possible. The herd originated from Wind Cave National Park, one of only two founding herds in the United States that were not crossbred with cattle. To maintain genetic diversity, bison will be swapped with other Conservancy herds on an annual basis.
With more than 25 years of experience in bison management, the Conservancy is well-prepared for the herd’s arrival. The bison will be confined to the Dunn Ranch property using fencing that exceeds industry standards, and all bison will be routinely vaccinated and tested for disease.
Dunn Ranch contributes positively to neighboring communities. Visitors to Dunn Ranch patronize nearby hotels, restaurants, and other businesses. Equipment and supplies are purchased locally, and the Conservancy hires local contractors whenever possible. Additionally, although the organization is tax-exempt, the Conservancy voluntarily pays taxes for the Dunn Ranch property annually.
The Nature Conservancy is a nonprofit, nongovernmental, charitable organization. The bison reintroduction is privately funded through family foundations and individual contributions.
The bison reintroduction is the culmination of over a decade of extensive prairie restoration at the 4,183-acre Dunn Ranch Prairie. Native seedings, tree removal, invasive species control, and prescribed fires have produced dramatic results at the property. Dunn Ranch now boasts more than 300 native plant species as well as thriving populations of native birds, including bobolinks, Henslow’s sparrows, sedge wrens, and northern harriers. Intensive efforts are ongoing to increase the greater prairie-chicken population.
After more than 160 years since bison last grazed Missouri grasslands, Dunn Ranch Prairie will once again be home to the iconic American Bison.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
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