Minnesota Zoo Partners with DNR to Preserve Bison
Apple Valley, MINN – July 12, 2012 – The Minnesota Zoo has joined with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in an effort to conserve the North American plains bison.
The Minnesota Zoo will work with the DNR to cooperatively manage a genetically-pure bison herd at Minnesota state parks and exhibition at the Zoo. A herd of 100+ bison currently reside at Blue Mounds State Park in southwestern Minnesota, a project that started in 1961 with three bison from Nebraska. The Zoo exhibits bison on its Northern Trail.
Background and Project
The new effort will help protect the genetic diversity of this native Minnesota species and educate Minnesotans about the bison’s conservation story and the important roles bison (and other large herbivores) play in our prairie ecosystem.
“American bison were the first wildlife species that zoos actively worked to help save, with a small herd originating from the Bronx Zoo being returned to the wild in 1907 to help restore the species in the Western Plains,” said Minnesota Zoo Director/CEO Lee Ehmke. “A strategic priority of the Minnesota Zoo is to increase awareness and to actively participate in the restoration of the prairie ecosystems that once occupied vast areas of Minnesota. Helping to expand the population and range of a keystone species like the bison, in collaboration with our colleagues at the DNR, is exactly the sort of conservation action our Zoo is committed to engage in.”
Courtland Nelson, director, DNR Division of Parks and Trails added: “We are very excited to be able to work with Minnesota Zoo staff to help preserve and expand the number of plains bison in Minnesota being managed for species conservation and ecological restoration. By signing this memorandum of agreement today, we will be helping Minnesota play a greater role in preserving one of the icons of the North American conservation movement and providing additional opportunities for visitors to see and learn more about these magnificent animals and the prairie ecosystems they inhabit.”
The project will begin in the fall of 2012.
About Blue Mounds State Parks
About the Minnesota Zoo