Friday, May 22, 2015

Bison return to Illinois

The next time I’m in Franklin Grove, I think I stop by the preserve and try to see the bison.

At least 30 million bison grazed the North American prairies in the 1500s, allowing plants to grow and attract native animals. But over-hunting killed most of the iconic creatures, crushing the population to less than 1,000 by the 1800s, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

With the help of ranchers and conservationists, bison have made a comeback. A 2007 U.S. Department of Agriculture census shows more than 198,000 bison on private properties across the country, with more than 1,200 in Illinois. An additional 20,000 bison roam public land in the U.S.

Ninety miles west of Chicago, staff and volunteers have worked since 1986 to restore Nachusa, a 3,100-acre mosaic of agricultural land and prairie fields.

And a new baby.

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