Small herd of purebred bison growing on prairie in Nebraska

WOOD RIVER, Neb. (AP) - A small herd of purebred bison in Nebraska has been growing with the births of at least six calves so far this spring.

The animals have been adjusting to their new home on more than 1,000 acres of tallgrass prairie on Crane Trust land, southwest of Grand Island.

The 41 bison, also known as buffalo, were trucked in from Rimrock Ranch near Crawford in the Nebraska Panhandle in January. The Kearney Hub newspaper reported (http://bit.ly/1Atv6Fy ) that trust officials don’t know how many of the 12 mature cows and five heifers will give birth and add to the herd this year.

“They really do take care of themselves out there in the field for the most part,” said Crane Trust senior director Brice Krohn, who said the cows go to isolated areas to give birth and rejoin the herd when the calves are a couple of days old.

The Rimrock Ranch herd was started 43 years ago by T.R. and Kay Hughes of Seward. The bison have a direct link to the Yellowstone National Park herd that has been federally protected since 1894.

Krohn said that when the Hugheses decided to sell their Crawford ranch, they wanted a new home for the bison where they could stay together. The trust officials had already been considering bring purebred bison back to the Platte Valley.

Experts say that of the 500,000 bison in North America, about 5,000 are genetically pure, descended from bison that have never been bred with cattle.

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