Bison at Darby Creek – No Bull

Six female bison have found a new home on the prairie at Battelle Darby Creek.  Ranging from two to eight years old, they were recently trucked in from The Wilds, a wildlife park in Cumberland, Ohio.

Once the girls (cows) adjust to their new digs, the Metro Parks hopes to introduce a male (bull) bison – perhaps as soon as late spring.  In the meantime, there’s little chance they’ll get cabin fever this winter, as the herd has two pastures to roam free. Native prairie grasses – Blue Stem and Indian Grass – cover the combined 46 acres, providing their primary source of nutrition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t expect to get as up close and personal to these bison as you might in Yellowstone National Park.  The pastures are surrounded with a double fence – one inner electrified fence to keep the bison in and one outer wooden fence to keep over zealous humans out.

Bulls can stand 6 feet high at the shoulders and weigh up to 2000 pounds, while cows are closer to 4 ½ feet high and weigh in around 900 pounds.  Calves can be 45 pounds at birth. The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine’s large animal services has taken on the task of overseeing the animals’ health.

BISON vs. BUFFALO – a lexicon stand off…

BISON – plains bison and wood bison – are native to North America. Having roamed the grasslands of Ohio’s Darby Plains when the first European settlers arrived, their numbers nationwide were in the tens of millions, until the mass slaughters in the 1870s.

BUFFALO encompasses two breeds and two continents – the water buffalo in Asia and the cape buffalo in Africa.  The use of the term buffalo in North America is believed to have derived from French traders, as les boeufs translates to oxen.

Regardless of what you call them, don’t be fooled by appearances. As Mark Ferenchik recently wrote in The Columbus Dispatch, “they appear slow and docile, but are quite agile and can run as fast as a horse.”

Ferenchik further warns, “a bison’s tail often is a handy warning flag. When it hangs down and switches naturally, the animal usually is unperturbed. If it extends out straight and droops at the end, the bison is becoming mildly agitated.  If its tail is sticking straight up, you should be somewhere else.”

Visit the Metro Parks web site for directions on accessing the bison area.

Get Involved: Join the Stewards of Metro Parks

Post written by Pamela J. Willits

10 responses to “Bison at Darby Creek – No Bull

  1. Larry: These are wonderful photos!

  2. Your photography never ceases to amaze me. The first picture is down right frightening. I think Jane has transformed into that look at times of my ignorance.

  3. These are neat picutres of the bisons. I seen a herd of them at Antalope National Park in Utah and they were coming down the hill. They are really big animals and you had better stay out of their way!

  4. Sorta like a Montana February.

  5. Larry: Fab pix and post! Who’s doing your writing/editing these days?Speaking of animals and writing, I’m currently reading “Squirrel Meets Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary” by David Sedaris. I highly recommend it. I’ve always enjoyed his work but this one is really special!

  6. Thanks Larry! Interesting info and, of course, excellent photography. This one place I plan to visit as soon as I’m back up to speed.

  7. Impressive animals and great photography

  8. Thanks Larry for the wonderful pics. Didn’t know about the difference b/w bison and buffalo, I thought they were same. I will definetly check this out. Oh by the way, did that first picture of the bison, was her tail straight up ?? Great picture !!

  9. Exciting to see these majestic animals in Central Ohio. Great reminder that much of our area was “prairie” before European settlement took place.

  10. Wow, for a minute there I was transported to points way way west. Those massive heads look so powerful. Great photos, great post. I’ll be heading out to see them next trip back.

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