Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pure bison bloodlines...

I knew that bison had been cross-bred with cattle for decades, but I had no idea that the bloodlines were so mixed. I suppose it comes from starting from such a small number of specimens at the turn of the last century and the unavoidable, rampant inbreeding that followed:

The Wind Cave park herd’s roots come from 14 bison donated in 1913 by the New York Zoological Society in the Bronx. Six more buffalo were imported from Yellowstone National Park in 1916. The herd is one of several conservation herds established by the American Bison Society.
Now, scientists are newly interested in the Wind Cave herd because of a recent discovery involving their pedigree – the Wind Cave bison are one of only two public herds in the nation that lack evidence of cattle genes, according to this story in today’s Rapid City Journal. (The other is in Yellowstone National Park.)
“It’s the closest thing to what used to wander the prairies for thousands of years,” says Tom Farrell, chief of interpretation for Wind Cave National Park. “This is the closest in going back in time and seeing what the Great American Desert was like.”

Read the entire article here: Biologists in South Dakota strive to preserve bison bloodlines

Check out this article as well: Biologists fight to save rare bison bloodlines

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