Watch: Bison are back at Belwin

The animals returned this week without the usual festival, but will be available for viewing all summer.

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3 minute read

Via Belwin Conservancy:

[su_youtube url=”https://youtu.be/vrf3iV9mo1o” width=”1000″ title=”Belwin Bison 2020″]

The bison herd has returned to Belwin Conservancy in Afton. This is the 12th year the organization has hosted a herd from Northstar Bison.

Learn more at http://www.belwin.org/bison/.

Why Bison?

Belwin bison 2020 (Photo by Greg Seitz on behalf of Belwin)

For Belwin Conservancy, bison are an integral part of our prairie restoration work. They are as much a part of the prairie as are the grasses and wildflowers. They work the landscape with their hooves, forage out unwanted plants and spread seeds in a way that cannot be replicated. Prior to 2008, Belwin Conservancy had long sought to restore bison to our land. Since their reintroduction, we have seen marked differences in the prairie’s makeup.

One of the other motivations behind bringing bison to Belwin Conservancy is education. Although they have largely disappeared from this area, bison were once an integral part of this landscape. As might be expected, bison are extremely well-suited to this environment and, with very little assistance, they thrive given only native prairie.

We firmly believe that bison raised on native prairie is one of the most sustainable and beneficial varieties of agriculture. The bison need almost nothing from us to thrive and at the same time, they do good for the prairie. This helps many other native wildflowers and birds that depend on the prairie to thrive.

Bison meat raised in this manner is also some of the healthiest meat available anywhere.

Bison Observation Platform

Bison platform (Photo by Greg Seitz)

Located on Division Street is a 20-foot tall observation platform that is freely open every day from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. so long as the bison are present. From this vantage point, visitors are afforded a panoramic view of the prairie and the bison wherever they may be at the time. In addition to viewing the bison, the observation platform is a great spot for birdwatching and admiring the seasonal prairie wildflowers below.

The bison move about the prairie throughout the day and sometime are quite distant from the observation platform. Don’t forget to bring binoculars!

Electric Fencing

In 2020, we upgraded a portion of the bison fencing to be more wildlife friendly and to align with NorthStar Bison’s fencing standards. That means that most of the fence is electric. Please do not touch the fence.

The fence surrounding the public parking lot and viewing area is not electric. Please stay in the designated viewing areas to observe the bison.

The electric fence is designed to enable wildlife to go under or over without getting stuck or shocked. Birds landing on the fence will not get a shock because they do not complete a circuit.

As of May 2020, approximately one-third of the perimeter has been converted to wildlife-friendly fencing. We will continue replacing other portions as funding allows with the goal of having all bison fencing transitioned to the new design by the end of 2021.

Rules

  • The observation facility is open from dawn to dusk every day during the summer while the bison are present (generally from mid-May through September).
  • Park only in the designated mowed parking area.
  • Dogs are not allowed anywhere in the observation area.
  • Bison viewing from the fence-line along Division Street or Stagecoach Trail is not permitted.
  • Please respect our neighbors and do not drive down Division Street to view the bison.
  • Bison are gentle creatures. However, when visiting the animals, please do not disturb them.

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One response to “Watch: Bison are back at Belwin”

  1. Mark Hove Avatar
    Mark Hove

    Neat!

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Watch: Bison are back at Belwin