Nature preserve brings buffalo back to the prairieby Stephanie Hemphill, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The Belwin nature preserve in Afton, Minnesota is adding a small herd of bison to its prairie.
Belwin nature preserve has about 500 acres of restored prairie, and officials say it's time to bring back the native bison. They work the soil with their hooves, graze on plants, and spread seeds. Belwin Executive Director Steve Hobbs said he hasn't found many other prairies where bison are part of the scene, so the introduction in Afton is an experiment.
"So many of the prairie plants evolved with the bison, so they need the grazing, they need the animals working around, even the bison when they take their dust baths creates habitat for certain plant species," Hobbs said.
The bison are coming from a ranch in Wisconsin. The 20 animals are about a year old, and they are expected to live at Belwin for two years before they are slaughtered.
It's part of a effort to show that prairie restoration can be economically feasible.
The animals will be placed in a 200 acre fenced area, with a parking lot nearby. The nature preserve plans to add a viewing platform in the future.
The public is invited to watch as the bison arrive at noon Saturday.