The bison herd at Blue Mounds State Park is part of the Minnesota Bison Conservation Herd, which is managed to protect wild bison and preserve their genetic diversity.
Bison need grass to eat. Based on the quality and quantity of grass that grows in the 530-acre bison range prairie, this park can sustain a herd of between 80 and 90 animals. Around 20-30 calves are born each spring. One day each fall the bison are given a health checkup, and some are selected for auction to keep the population sustainable.
Every few years, a new bull (male) bison is selected from a National Park or National Wildlife Refuge to increase the genetic diversity of the herd. The current bull at Blue Mounds comes from Yellowstone National Park, but in an unusual way. Our Yellowstone Bison Bull fact sheet tells the bull's interesting backstory.
Viewing the herd
Visit the bison observation deck where you can use a spotting scope to locate the herd. If you cannot see the herd from the observation deck, the bison are most likely in the southwest corner of the range, and might be visible from the Western Loop Trail. It is important that you do not enter the bison range fence, but you can get closer views by hiking along the perimeter of the range on the trail.
Another great way to possibly see the bison - and to learn more about them and the prairie they live on - is to take the naturalist-led Prairie and Bison tour, which takes people seasonally into the bison range on a 12-passenger open-sided vehicle that can accommodate one wheelchair.
The Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) funded bison interpretive exhibits and the Prairie and Bison Tour vehicle.
Other resources including revenue from state park operations and Legacy Amendment funds help to support interpretation, outreach, and natural resource projects.