Spring is here and with it, new life -- and not just plant life!
Remember the Laramie Foothills Bison Conservation Herd released at Soapstone Prairie last fall? They made it through the winter and have welcomed half a dozen new calves!
"They're genetically important animals. And so these are the first animals in many, many years to give birth up there,” said U.S. Department of Agriculture wildlife biologist, Matt McCollum.
Six new baby bison are now home on the range.
"So up at Soapstone the animals are doing very well,” he said.
After more than 150 years of being hunted to the point of extinction, these calves are the first American Bison born on the land -- 1,000 acres just north of Fort Collins.
"Basically every cow that we've put up there that was an adult has given birth,” said McCollum.
The new calves are the product of natural breeding, fathered by genetically pure American Bison owned by the USDA. Together with researchers from Colorado State University, McCollum hopes to grow this herd further with assisted reproductive technology.
“If any of these do indeed give birth, then they'll be the first in vitro produced embryos in bison,” he said, “And once they're 6 months of age, we'll test them to make sure there's no evidence of Brucellosis.”
Brucellosis is a potentially devastating disease that can infect bison. So far, the herd looks good, which is exciting news for conservationists hoping to restore the west and return the iconic species.
"Another piece to the puzzle of what was originally was there,” he said.