USDA Forest Service officials say you might spot spring bison calves at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie on May 5 during Red Carpet Corridor Festival activities

Release Date: Apr 6, 2018   Wilmington, Ill

Contact(s): Veronica Hinke


USDA Forest Service officials say you might spot some spring bison calves at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie on Saturday, May 5 during Red Carpet Corridor Festival activities from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 

“This is an incredible time here on the prairies when we start to see signs of new life all around, and there’s nothing quite like the joy of spotting a spring bison calf trying out its new legs,” said Midewin Prairie Supervisor Wade Spang.

 

If there are calves, you will be able to tell instantly because they stand out with their distinct bright, orange-red coats. That’s how they got the affectionate catch-name “red dog.”  When they are several weeks old, their fur starts to change to dark brown and you begin to see the shoulder hump and horns growing. Bison can get up to 2,000 pounds but start out at only just 30 to 70 pounds at birth. 

 

Since 2016, bison are America’s National Mammal. In November 2016, a web cam was installed at Midewin near where the herd is known to roam. The herd roams nearly 1,000 miles, which means they are not always visible on the camera. You can look for them from your home, online, here: www.fs.usda.gov/main/midewin/home. Midewin staff watches for sightings and notifies the public through posts on Facebook and Twitter when the bison are visible on camera. Try to tell the males from the females: Adult female bison horns are rounder, more c-shaped than male horns, which point straighter up.    

 

In 2015, bison were introduced at Midewin as a 20-year experiment in conservation. Volunteers, partners and staff are monitoring to see if the herd’s grazing pattern, which is creating more varied grass lengths, is encouraging native prairie birds and other species to return.  

 

On Saturday, May 5, you can look for bison – and that’s not all: Look at a 97-foot-tall Smokey Bear hot air balloon here from Albuquerque; stroll through the pop-up Natural Resources Expo; hike through native Illinois spring blooms and the remains of a historic farmstead; get your  commemorative button and more – details are online, here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/midewin/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD575790.