North American Bison Return to the Tallgrass Prairie

Conservationists have brought the North American bison back from the edge of extinction and reintroduced them to their original stomping grounds: the Midwest’s tallgrass prairie.

| February/March 2010

  • North American Bison
    The North American bison isn’t ready to call it quits. After near extinction, their numbers are steadily growing again.
    PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO

  • North American Bison

After a 140-year absence, The Nature Conservancy has reintroduced the North American bison to the native tallgrass prairie of east central Kansas, in celebration of the state chapter’s 20-year anniversary. A herd of 13 bison now calls a portion of the 11,000-acre Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve home, and plans to add more are underway. The bison add an element of authenticity to the prairie and represent a vital component of grassland ecosystems.

Once estimated at about 60 million, bison were decimated as pioneers settled the American West. Among others, fur traders and hunters hired by railroad companies to keep the tracks clear contributed to the massacre. By the end of the 19th century, little more than 1,000 bison survived.

Thanks to efforts by The Nature Conservancy and others, these magnificent grazers have made a comeback and are no longer endangered. North America now boasts about 450,000 bison, including those raised for meat. You can read more about the preserve and the bison reintroduction at The Nature Conservancy website.






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