Wind Cave Bison Help with Restoration Efforts

One employee on right holds the head of a bison while an employee on the left implants a microchip.
Park employees Mike Carder (L) and Mark Greene implant a microcomputer into the bison.

NPS Photo

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News Release Date: October 28, 2014

Contact: Tom Farrell, 605-745-1130

WIND CAVE NATIONAL PARK, S.D. –Bison from Wind Cave National Park were recently sent to help form new or augment existing herds in five different states. The transfer of these 103 bison is part of an agreement with The Nature Conservancy to form conservation herds with bison from Wind Cave National Park. The Wind Cave herd is known for its brucellosis free status and high levels of genetic purity and diversity.

"We are very pleased to work with The Nature Conservancy on this project of preserving our bison," said Vidal Dávila, park Superintendent. "Should something happen to our herd, these conservation herds could serve as a safety net to help repopulate or replace the park's herd."

The Nature Conservancy will be relocating the bison to preserves in Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota, and eventually Illinois.

All bison tested negative for brucellosis. Each animal also received a microcomputer chip and metal ear tag and the animal's size, weight, age, and height was recorded. Genetic samples from calves and yearlings were taken to continue monitoring the genetics' of the herd.

With the assistance of horse riders from Custer State Park and helicopters from Sky Aviation in Worland, Wyoming, 374 animals were brought in for processing to reduce the size of the herd to fewer than 450 animals. Currently there are an estimated 365 to 400 bison remaining in the park.


Last updated: April 10, 2015

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