The bison at Jester Park were near the fence where I could see them yesterday morning. They weren’t as quick to leave when they noticed me as they have been. The two youngest ones are between 1 1/2 and 2 months old now. They are still curious and exploring.
This morning, the bison were resting most of the time I was there. A goldfinch stopped by to say hello. I sat on one of the rock benches, closed my eyes, and listened to the sounds of a peaceful Sunday morning.
Warm air pushed up from the south at the end of last week. It brought the wind with it. The heat will stay until a cold front storms in from the northwest.
June 10, 2017
June 11, 2017
Take care and thanks for reading.
Here are a few facts about Bison, Elk, and their history in Iowa courtesy of the display in the Bison and Elk Exhibit, Jester Park, Iowa.
1846, Iowa becomes the 29th state, Population of Iowa 192,000
1846, Prairie covers 80% of Iowa, Elk and Bison roam across the state
1870, Population of Iowa 1,194,000
1870, Prairie covers 40% of Iowa, Elk and Bison vanish from the state
1900, Population of Iowa 2,232,000
1900, Prairie covers 5 % of Iowa, Nationally, bison reach near extinction
2000, Population of Iowa, 2,926,000
2000, Prairie covers less than 1% of Iowa and only captive elk and bison remain.
Bison are the largest land mammals in North America
They were nicknamed “Buffalo” by early settlers.
Bull bison (males) weigh 2,000 lbs. and cows (females) weigh 1000 lbs.
They can run 30 mph and pivot quickly.
Both bulls and cows have horns.
Horns have one point and are never shed.
Bison eat prairie grasses, consuming about 25 lbs. a day.
Bison mate in late summer and give birth in the spring to a 60 lbs. calf.
Prior to settlement, 65 million bison roamed North America.
By 1895, fewer than 1000 remained.
Elk are also known as Wapiti meaning “White Rump.”
Bull elk (males) weigh 700 lbs. and cows (females) weigh 500 lbs.
Elk can run 25 mph and jump 6 feet high.
Only bulls grow antlers, totaling up to 40 lbs.
Antlers have many points and are shed yearly.
Elk eat grass and woody vegetation, consuming about 15 lbs. a day.
Elk mate in the fall and give birth in the spring to a 35 lbs. calf.
By 1900, national elk populations were reduced from 10 million to less than 100,000.
Unregulated hunting and habitat loss led to their decline.
Early conservation efforts help elk and bison recover.
The Lacey Act (1894) introduced by Iowa Congressman John Lacey became first federal law protecting wildlife.
It is unlikely elk and bison will ever roam freely again in Iowa.
These small herds remind us of Iowa’s history.