Enter your number to get our free mobile app

Byron, MN (KROC AM News) - They are not just a familiar and popular part of Olmsted County’s Oxbow Park. They are also special because of their genetics.

Clarissa Schrooten

And now the park’s four bison are part of a statewide program aimed at preserving the country’s largest native animal.

Clarissa Schrooten

Oxbow Park’s animals have become part of the Minnesota Bison Conservation Herd, which is managed through a long-standing partnership between the Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Zoological Garden. The herd includes about 130 bison at four different locations: Blue Mounds State Park, Minneopa State Park, the Minnesota Zoo and now Zollman Zoo at Oxbow Park. The partnership’s long-term goal is a herd numbering 500 bison to ensure the herd’s long-term sustainability in Minnesota.

According to the DNR:
Conservation herds are managed by state, federal, tribal or nongovernmental organizations focused on protecting wild bison and preserving their genetic diversity. The Minnesota Zoo’s veterinary staff provide much of the health care for the Minnesota conservation herd, while its zoologists work hard to coordinate DNA testing and breeding efforts. Recent genetic testing of the herd found them free of cattle crossbreeding. This makes them rare among modern bison. The DNR has been managing bison in the state park system since 1961, when three animals were reintroduced to Blue Mounds State Park in southwestern Minnesota.

Oxbow Park/Zollman Zoo Naturalist Clarissa Schrooten says bison were introduced to the county site in 1982. She says the bull and three cows now in her care also have the rare genetics of the other Minnesota bison.

And they have special roots that most Americans probably are not aware of.

Schrooten says they are descendants of one of the two well-known “Teddy Roosevelt herds” in North Dakota.

Check here for more information about the current national bison management program. It's a good read.

Here's Clarissa with more info on her bison:

 

The following photos were taken during a recent visit to Custer State Park in South Dakota. It was amazing to be able to get that close to these magnificent animals. Two of the pics show a bull that had been rolling in the dust - either to get rid of bugs or he was getting aggressive!

Kim David/Townsquare Media
Kim David/Townsquare Media
Kim David/Townsquare Media
Kim David/Townsquare Media
Kim David/Townsquare Media
Kim David/Townsquare MediaDavid/Townsquare MediaDavid/Townsquare Media

Oops!  These two snuck into the story!

 

NEW PHOTOS: Best Christmas Light Displays in Rochester & Southeast Minnesota