Ranging Bison: An Ecological Win for Everyone! by Walkaboutlou

Hi Janet,

2 years of changes are now being implemented on a ranch I know. A nursery herd of bison was kept isolated for the past 2 years, growing up together, acclimating to land. They had 1st calf this past spring. This new young group will eventually turn into a large herd that will literally roam over 8000 acres.

At the same time, the 100 year sheep operation is in its final stages, and the last lambs are being born.

It’s an end of an era. And a move to create sustainable ranching.

Bison are the very opposite of sheep in every way. They need no protection from predators or dogs. They literally improve grazing if given room. The wildest of erratic weather means nothing to them. They are the future. Ironically, with sheep being removed and many fences torn down, within 2 weeks a band of pregnant elk have began utilizing some areas where they haven’t been seen for years. There’s only a few bison roaming. But already there is a profound change happening. When coyote discover a bison/elk grazed ranch of 8000 acres, no doubt this will be prime territory for a few lucky pairs.

For ranchers who want to survive erratic weather, times, etc…bison are proving themselves more and more.

And where bison roam, coyote are no longer under suspicion.

I feel privileged to see this. How many times are sheep removed….and bison, elk and coyote move in?


Hi Janet,

I forgot to mention, the area the bison have lived past 2 years looks very different from sheep grazed range. The grass is longer. Also, where especially the bulls wallow for dust/mud, depressions develop, holding water, which spring peeper frogs lay eggs in. Their actual grazing is different, and it’s hard to comprehend, but a huge bison has less impact than a sheep in the land.

Like I said, I’m really excited. 8000 acres of ranging bison will be an ecological win. And the coyote that live there will be in prime habitat. No hunting allowed, so I’m sure wildlife will converge here under the new bison banner.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dan De Vries
    Jan 12, 2020 @ 01:44:45

    There’s a powerful argument for reestablishing “megafauna” on North America’s open spaces. One, from a few years back, The Eternal Frontier: An Ecological History of North America and Its Peoples by Tim Flannery (not the former San Francisco Giants coach). Flannery, as I recall from my reading speculates about introducing camels and elephants to the Great Plains and that perhaps the greatest benefit would be increased soil fertility. Another is from Dan Flores, who wrote the wonderful Coyote America. His about megafauna is American Serengeti: The Last Big Animals of the Great Plains. Each well worth the reading


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Jan 12, 2020 @ 19:59:55

      I disagree with humans introducing new species into the area such as elephants and camels. We have our own ecology here which can be rebalanced without that kind of mega-interference. Dan Flores is a historian.

  2. Hilary Cole
    Jan 12, 2020 @ 17:50:50


    What an interesting story, sounds great and I shall look forward to hearing more about the Bison and wildlife that moves in..

    Thanks for that..

    Hilary 😊


  3. lancer223
    Jan 15, 2020 @ 20:24:15

    Hi Janet,
    Thank you for the great report. Have you read the great book 1491 (and the sequel 1493) by Charles Mann? He talks about how important it is to have a complete ecosystem. This is one method to combat climate change. Having buffalo as well as bears, wolves and of course, coyotes will have far-reaching implications in our complete pyramid of life. Things evolved together to make the world work. Take out one or two parts (ie: coyotes, buffaloes) and things don’t work and we have global warming and other imbalances.


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Jan 15, 2020 @ 20:28:36

      Thank you, Lance, for your comment! Yes, it’s a carefully balanced system which we should not be upsetting — extremely finely tuned and every component is important — as it evolved. It works as a whole. I will try to take a look at these two books you suggest. Again, thank you! Janet

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