Wildlife Management - The Animals Arrive

Black and white photograph of two bison bulls in a prairie
Bison Bull

NPS Photo

The Journey Begins

The bison were a gift from the New York Zoological and the American Bison Societies. Simply getting these animals to the park was quite a story. Fred Dille, of the U.S. Biological Survey, was in charge of transporting the bison.

Black and white photograph of a bison being loaded onto a train
Loading Bison onto a Train

NPS Photo Archive

Destination: South Dakota

In New York, the bison were loaded onto an express train. They arrived in Hot Springs, a 2000-mile trip, 2 1/2 days later. When the train reached Hot Springs, every available truck and cart was pressed into service to get the animals the remaining eleven miles to the preserve. This journey took ten hours!

Historic black and white photograph of bison being transported in carts across a field
Transporting the Bison in Carts

NPS Photo

Arrival Time

By the time the bison reached the preserve, quite a crowd had gathered to see them released. There was only one problem. The bison had no idea how to back out of a crate! This frustrating experience is summarized in the words of Dille:

To suggest to a buffalo that he must back out of the crate by poking him in the head… are but a challenge to him and he does not propose to give ground.

Bison silhouette against a sunset
Bison Against the Sunset

NPS Photo

A New Life

The final operation was more like removing the crates from the animals than the animals from the crate. At last, the bison were released and they wandered off into the sunset to begin their new life on the prairie.


Last updated: December 11, 2018

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26611 US Highway 385
Hot Springs, SD 57747


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