- Associated Press - Saturday, June 20, 2015

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) - A 10-day-old bison born on the Colorado State University campus is testament to technology that is allowing the last of genetically pure lineage to continue and a symbol of the herd that will be the first to roam public land in Larimer County in 150 years.

The 45-pound bison calf was born feet first after two hours of labor in a pouring rainstorm on June 5 and before a crowd of eagerly watching researchers.

“I was surprised it happened so well in front of a crowd,” said Dr. Jack Rhyan, a veterinarian with the United States Department of Agriculture, who has seen just three other births in his 33-year career with bison, according to a written statement.

“Usually, you come out in the morning, and there’s a calf.”

The calf was the third born through artificial insemination using semen that has been cleaned of brucellosis, a bacterial infection that can devastate bison and cattle herds. The semen was from a herd in Yellowstone National Park, the last remaining wild herd known to be pure bison, not contaminated by breeding with cattle.

That wild herd is infected with brucellosis, so CSU researcher Jennifer Barfield began working with technology created by Professor George Seidel and his team to remove infections and diseases in this way from cattle.

She transferred the technology to bison and began working with a herd, also descended from Yellowstone bison, that the USDA was breeding in Fort Collins.

This was the third bison born through artificial insemination as part of Barfield’s research, and all three are scheduled to be released onto public land in Larimer County on Nov. 1.

A herd of 12 will be moved to an 800-acre enclosure on Soapstone Prairie Natural Area and Red Mountain Open Space — the first herd to roam public land in Larimer County since the Civil War era. The hope is this herd will expand and grow naturally, in the wild, on public land.

Until November, the calf will continue to grow alongside his mother at Colorado State University.

He is nursing now, but eventually, his mom will teach him how to graze.

Like humans, bison are born with baby teeth that they lose and are eventually replaced with adult teeth, according to Seidel. However, unlike humans, these incisors are only on the bottom while the top front is the equivalent of our gums. Bison have all their adult teeth by three and a half years old.

He grows about a pound per day, a rate that soon will accelerate to two pounds per day. Eventually, he will grow to 1,500 to 2,000 pounds.

Two other bison in the herd are expecting babies this summer; however, they were conceived through natural breeding process between genetically pure cows and bulls in the herd at CSU.

“He’s eagerly anticipating the arrival of some playmates,” Seidel said Monday. “They will have fun romping and playing.”

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Information from: Loveland Daily Reporter-Herald, http://www.reporterherald.com/

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