- Associated Press - Saturday, January 30, 2016

ALDA, Neb. (AP) - Officials managing the genetically pure bison on Crane Trust land near Alda say rare animals’ first year at the trust has been a success.

Jacob Salter, who helps manage the herd, told the Grand Island Independent (https://bit.ly/1Q1nZWx ) that the first year has been “an excellent experience” that included the birth of 11 healthy calves, with no calf deaths.

That number has impressed other people who run bison herds, said Brice Krohn, senior director at the Crane Trust Nature and Visitor Center.

Krohn and others credit the trust’s philosophy of providing a low-stress environment for the bison.

Krohn said the bison were run through a chute only once since arriving at the Crane Trust last year, to collect blood and hair samples and to worm the animals. If any animal needs medication, he said, it’s delivered via a dart gun to keep human contact to a minimum.

Experts say that of the 500,000 bison in North America, only about 5,000 are genetically pure, descended from bison that have never been bred with cattle.

One purpose for locating the bison on the Crane Trust land was to observe the impact of bison grazing on native prairie. Crane Trust personnel are just beginning to scratch the surface of the information they hope to learn over the years, Salter said.

The bison have created 44 dirt and mud wallows on the land, he said. Salter thinks those wallows are helping introduce new plant species that might not otherwise grow.

A botanist plans to go over that area, documenting every prairie grass, plant and flower that grows in the plot, including the many wallows created by the bison.


Information from: The Grand Island Independent, https://www.theindependent.com

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