PRAIRIE CITY, Iowa- Spring has arrived at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge. So far five bison calves have been born on the Refuge. Each year around 10-15 Cows have calves.
“It started about two weeks ago we had two calves within a couple of days and then we had a couple more, so up to five now in the last two weeks,” said Karen Viste-Sparkman, wildlife Biologist at the Refuge. “This is kind of their peak time for seeing the calves when they’re young and cute.”
Unlike the peak time for leaf viewing, the calves can be a little more elusive. The Bison are contained inside a large 800 acre grassland, but can sometimes be far away from the road where they can be viewed.
“It’s required that people stay in your vehicle they are dangerous even though they look really calm,” said Viste-Sparkman. “People think they act like cattle, because they’re just standing there grazing, but they are different they’re definitely wild animals.
Each fall the herd is sorted, and some excess animals are sent to other preserves, or to Indian tribes. The animals are observed, but doe not get medical care from the Refuge.
“We try to treat them as wildlife is much is possible, not as livestock, but they’re kind of in-between, because they’re confined to a small area,” said Viste-Sparkman.
The herd these days often can be seen in a large field northwest of the visitor center. People can also drive through the area were the bison are located, but exiting from the vehicle is not permitted, and drivers must stay on the road.