Watch as the new bison herd runs to its new home at Dunn Ranch Prairie!
A herd of 37 bison was reintroduced this week onto The Nature Conservancy’s Dunn Ranch Prairie in northwest Missouri.
Before they were hunted to near extinction in the late 1800s, bison roamed the Great Plains for nearly 10,000 years. A piece of Missouri’s natural heritage, bison are also important for grassland ecosystems. The herd’s grazing patterns and other behaviors keep the prairie in balance, creating niches for a vast array of native plants and animals.
The Conservancy has more than 25 years of experience in bison management, and will manage the bison in a safe, respectful manner which emulates natural herd structures. 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.
There are over 400,000 bison in public and private herds in the United States, but the herd at Dunn Ranch is unusual because it is one of only eight herds in the country that have not been crossbred with cattle (based on standard genetic testing). To maintain the correct herd structure as well as genetic diversity, bison will be swapped with other Conservancy herds on an annual basis.
The neighboring community will benefit from the bison reintroduction at Dunn Ranch, both economically and through educational opportunities. Visitors to Dunn Ranch patronize nearby businesses, and the Conservancy hires local contractors and makes purchases locally whenever possible. The site will also provide school groups and other visitors with engaging opportunities to learn about grassland ecology. Although the organization is tax-exempt, the Conservancy voluntarily pays taxes for the Dunn Ranch property annually.
The Nature Conservancy is a private, nonprofit organization; the bison reintroduction is funded through foundations and individual contributions.
The Conservancy has worked to restore the 4,183-acre Dunn Ranch Prairie in Harrison County for over a decade. Native reseedings, tree removal, invasive species control, and prescribed fires have produced dramatic results on the prairie. Today the site boasts more than 300 native plant species, thriving populations of native birds, and now – 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.