By Herb Ryan
October 17, 2017
Wind Cave National Park, Hot Springs SD – From 1987 to 2015, Wind Cave National Park has processed and distributed 1,763 bison. Of these animals, 80% have gone to Native American Tribes, 17% have gone to non-governmental organizations like The Nature Conservancy and the remaining 3% to other National Park Service units, state agencies and university.
Today Tuesday, October 24, 2017 workers were processing bison that will be shipped to The Nature Conservancy (approximately 70 bison) in Kansas for relocation to preserves in Indiana and Kansas and The Arizona Game and Fish Department will receive approximately 60 bison and will locate them to The Raymond Wildlife Management Area 40 miles southeast of Flagstaff, Arizona. The Kalispel Tribe in Washington State will be receiving approximately 3 bison and locating them to eastern Washington.
Bison were introduced to the park in 1913 when fourteen bison were donated by the New York Zoological Park (Bronx Zoo) and six more animals were obtained from Yellowstone National Park in 1916. In 1945, brucellosis was found in the Park’s bison. Through inoculation of calves, extensive testing, and elimination of positive animals the Wind Cave herd was declared brucellosis free in 1968 by the State of South Dakota. Lennie Ramacher, assistant chief of interpretation at Wind Cave National Park said, ” A recent three year genetics study in 2001 found that Wind Cave and Yellowstone National Park herds to be free of cattle gene introgression and identified them as having the most significant contribution to genetic variation in federal bison herds”.
Shelly Shepherd, the public information officer with the Arizona Game and Fish Department said, “Our 60 bison will be going to the Raymond Wildlife Area which is a 15,000 Arizona Game and Fish commission property. The herd will be managed for wildlife viewing and regulated hunting opportunities for the public.” Shepherd continued, ” Our entire crew is very proud to be part of this significant Bison conservation effort. We are very excited to be a conservation partner and working with the National Park Service on this project.”
*Correction: Shelly Shepherd, the public information officer with the Arizona Game and Fish Department was wrongly identified as Shelly Roberts in the original post.