Bison herd returns to Belwin prairie on May 20

Event welcoming NorthStar Bison herd to Afton for the ninth year is free and open to the public.




2 minute read

Via Belwin Conservancy:

Bison on the Move (Belwin), Marianne Diericks

Belwin Conservancy is excited to announce that a herd of 40 bison from NorthStar Bison in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, will be released onto Belwin’s prairie at a free public event on Saturday, May 20. This is the ninth year that a herd will spend their summer grazing 120 acres of prairie at Belwin.

Each year since 2008, a crowd has gathered to welcome the bison to their summer home, growing larger each year. Last year, more than 1,000 people turned out to witness the bison release and celebrate the majesty of the United States’ first national mammal charging across the prairie landscape.

“Our relationship with Belwin is really the heartbeat of NorthStar and what bison, as a species, is all about: Restoration and regeneration. Restoring healthy ecosystems, healthy people and, ultimately, a healthy, thriving species. When you have that, everyone wins,” says Sean Graese of NorthStar Bison.

For Belwin, the bison play a critical role in its land management and restoration activities. “Since I became the land and facilities manager at Belwin, I’ve seen that the bison actually do a better job managing the prairie than anything we humans can do,” says Justin Sykora. “The response of the flowers and grasses has been better than we could have hoped. The diversity of the prairie has greatly improved since the bison have been coming. They are modifying our management strategy.”

The Bison Release event on May 20 opens at 11:00 a.m. with the release taking place at 12:00 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, and will include family-friendly activities, educational displays, food from Afton Alps Food Truck and Afton House Inn, and NorthStar Bison burger and brat samples and frozen bison meat for sale. Complete event details, including parking and shuttle information, can be found at

Those unable to attend the Bison Release event may visit the bison on their prairie home throughout the summer via the bison observation platform, open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. More information can be found at


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2 responses to “Bison herd returns to Belwin prairie on May 20”

  1. Lu Avatar

    Wow…..such wonderfully beautiful animals. Felt so thrilled to hear that these buffalo are alive and living well on the open prairie. But….oh my…..found out that these bison are actually being raised for profit …to slaughter and eat. Ain’t gonna find any bison burgers on my dinner plate! Too many other tasty options to satisfy my appetite and nourish my body without involving slaughtering animals anymore. Times….they are a changing.

    1. Greg Seitz Avatar

      Clearly, different folks have different food ethics. It is worth noting though that prairie has enormous benefits for wildlife and clean water. Land in the St. Croix Valley is expensive, so restoring prairie can be very difficult. The bison have wonderful, natural relationships with prairie plants and animals, and the Belwin effort is seeking to develop a market for the meat as a means to make conservation financially possible. It’s truly innovative and promising for the future. It’s also worth reading this recent article about NorthStar Bison to better understand their ethics and humane slaughter practices. Nonetheless, if you’re not comfortable eating meat, that’s a personal decision! Thanks for commenting!


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Bison herd returns to Belwin prairie on May 20