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