DENVER — Preserving an icon. For thousands of years, American bison herds roamed the great plains by the millions until over hunting drove them nearly to extinction.
Now unique partnership is returning the native icon to the short grass prairie of northern Colorado.
An Iconic symbol of America and the west, Bison, once on the brink of extinction, are now being brought back in even stronger form.
For the first time in 150 years, pure bred, disease free bison are roaming Colorado’s Front Range.
Behind a fence in Soapstone Prairie Natural Area, a herd of 10 will be free to roam more than 800 acres.
It’s a sight hundreds Sunday, lined up to see.
Pure bison like these are rare as most are interbred with cattle.
“I guess I can consider them all kind of my babies,” said Dr. Jennifer Barfield, CSU College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences
Acting as a sort of surrogate mother, Dr. Barfield and a team from the USDA took embryos from the genetically diverse Yellowstone herd, cleansing them of diseases before insemination.
“It`s a big day. We`ve been working at this a long time,” said Matt Maccolum, Wildlife Biologist with the USDA.
The perfect specimens released Sunday in NoCo’s Soapstone Prairie
“They are going to grow up and be able to live out their lives is just incredible fulfilling,” said Dr. Barfield.
Cheered on by spectators and a community proud to give these buffalo a home.
“It gives you a sense of excitement and kind of satisfaction that they are going to get to live their life back out on the prairie where they really belong,” said Dr. Barfield.
City leaders say this intergovernmental partnership is solving the three key challenges to bison conservation, genetics, disease and habitat.
The group hopes to continue growing the herd.