It is calving season for bison at Blue Mounds State Park near Luverne, and babies are frolicking on the park prairie, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Up to 30 new bison calves are expected at the park by early June, growing the herd to more than 100 animals.
"Calves are being born almost every day," said Craig Beckman, park manager. "This is an exciting time to visit the park."
Each newborn calf weighs 40 to 50 pounds and is able to stand alongside its mother and nurse moments after birth. Within hours, the cow and calf are moving with the herd. At maturity, bison bulls may stand five to six feet high at the shoulder, measure nearly 10 feet in length, and weigh more than 2,000 pounds. The female cows are smaller, weighing about 1,200 pounds.
Bison, also known as buffalo, first came to Blue Mounds State Park in 1961, when three animals were brought from Fort Niobrara Wildlife Refuge near Valentine, Neb. The herd is presently maintained at about 75 adult animals so they do not overgraze the 530-acre prairie.
Visitors are encouraged to bring binoculars to view the bison, as the herd can sometimes be at a distance from the viewing platform as the bison graze across the prairie. A viewing scope is also available at the park. There is no charge to view the bison, but a vehicle permit ($5 daily or $25 year-round) is required to enter the park.
For more information on Blue Mounds State Park, visit http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/blue_mounds/index.html. For more information on bison, see http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/mammals/bison.html.
Blue Mounds State Park is located four miles north on Luverne on U.S. Highway 75. Turn east on County Road 20 and go one mile to the park entrance.