The state park herds usually grow by 25-30 calves each spring
As of late May, about 10 bison calves have joined the 30-member herd at Minneopa State Park. The Blue Mounds State Park herd has grown by about 20 calves. By the end of the birthing season, around 35 new arrivals in total are expected to join the Minnesota Conservation Herd.
“So far, the new calves appear to be healthy and well-adjusted,” said Ashley Steevens, Minneopa State Park supervisor. “Each day we monitor the herd and note any new additions. So far, the birth rate is typical.”
Predictions of new births based on the appearance of a bison cow are impossible, Steevens said. The animals are massive to begin with, and a bison cow’s body shape does not noticeably change during pregnancy.
Newborn bison calves are reddish brown in color, weigh 30 to 50 pounds, and stand upright almost immediately after birth. Female bison move away from the herd when they give birth and keep the calf away from the herd for a few days. Full grown bison bulls weigh up to 2,000 pounds and can stand at six feet in height. Adult cows weigh an average of 800 pounds and stand four to five feet tall.
State park visitors may catch a glimpse of the newborns. Reservations can be made for a 90-minute prairie bus tour at Blue Mounds State Park. Bison can be elusive so no guarantee is made that the 90-member herd will be visible. To make a tour reservation, call 866-857-2757 or visit the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ state park reservations webpage.
Minneopa State Park features a bison drive open each day of the week except Wednesday. Visitors can tune their car radios to 1610 AM for information on the park and the Minnesota Bison Conservation Herd while entering the drive. Visitors should always remain in their vehicles while on the drive.
Vehicles require a state park permit which is $7 per day, or $35 per year for unlimited state park visitation. Visitors can save time and buy a permit online before their trip. More information is available on the DNR’s state park permits webpage.