photo: Charles Larry
Back March 27, 2017
Trip Ideas

An Illinois Home Where the Buffalo Roam

Majestic American bison herd reintroduced to Nachusa Grasslands

In October 2014, the Nachusa Grasslands were reintroduced to an old friend – the American bison. The Nature Conservancy, which operates the Grasslands, brought 30 bison to the preserve.

In 2016, just two years later, the Nachusa Grasslands herd numbered 89 bison – 53 cows and 36 bulls.

The reintroduction of the American bison to the Illinois countryside has been a success. Today, the animals happily wander their 1,500-acre preserve.

If you tried to build an animal ideally suited to thrive on the vast prairie of Illinois, you’d be hard pressed to design a better beast than the American bison.

Tough, resilient and nearly weatherproof, the American bison once numbered in the millions across North America. But habitat encroachment and wholesale hunting reduced the population to about 1,000 animals by the turn of the last century.

They typically stand 6 feet at the shoulder and weigh more than 1,000 pounds. Despite their bulk, the animals are amazingly agile. They can run as fast as a horse, and turn quickly.

The Nachusa Grasslands, a mix of tallgrass prairie, savanna and woodlands, covers 4,000 acres, so there’s plenty of room for hiking, birding and other outdoor activities. The bison herd lives behind fences on 1,500 acres, so you don’t need to worry about too-close bison encounters.

Learn More at the Nature Conservancy Website

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