As first reported by the Cowboy State Daily News, A 30-pound rare white bison calf hit the ground at the Bear River State Park near Evanston, Wyoming, at about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 16.
That event is very significant to the tribal people from the region. “I remember when one was born near Broadus about thirty years ago” said Dr. Richard Little Bear. “The elders made a big deal about that. It somehow encouraged them, maybe a signal for another long life for our people”.
Park Superintendent Tyfani Sager said the new baby is small, but by all accounts, doing well.
The as-yet unnamed baby’s sex remains unknown, but it’s been up and nursing from its mother, named Wyoming Hope.
It’s too early to say if the baby will reach a level of social media fame like some of Wyoming’s other charismatic megafauna, including Grizzly 399 or the Daniel drop tine buck called “The King,” but Sager said there’s been an uptick in tourist traffic at the park this week.
“We’re not sure if it’s a bull calf or a heifer calf,” Sager said. “They’re real furry and it’s hard to tell right off the bat.”
She added that bison cows are protective of their young.
The birth of an albino white bison is a 1-in-10 million event, according to the National Bison Association. The white bison is a sacred sign to the Lakota Sioux and other plains tribes.
This new baby is off-the-chart cute, but the genetics that made it white come from Charolais cattle — and it’s not albino, Sager said.
Bear River State Park received two white bison heifers in 2021 from Jackson Fork Ranch in Bondurant. Sager said the second heifer is not expected to produce a calf until next spring.
The new mother, Wyoming Hope, was bred by one of the resident bulls at the park.
“Most of the bison you find anymore have some cattle genetics,” Sager said. “They were nearly hunted to extinction by the late 1800s. People got concerned about extinction and cattle inbreeding was used. A white bison birth is still rare.”
The 328-acre park is home to 10 adult bison and five calves. Tuesday’s birth was the first white bison born there.
Bison were first brought to this park on the edge of Evanston from Hot Springs State Park near Thermopolis in 1992.
Bear Lake State Park in Wyoming have two other white bison in its herd, but the white baby bison that arrived last Tuesday was the first born there.
Sager, who has worked at Bear River State Park for 18 years, said it won’t be difficult to get a look at the new baby from somewhere along the park’s 8 to 10 miles of trails.
There are also three bull elk living in the park and more baby bison are expected this spring.
The park is all river bottom habitat and there are a lot of birds migrating and nesting there now, Sager said.
The Intertribal Buffalo Council (ITCB) has been long devoted to the American buffalo which declined from a population of millions, prior to white invasion to a measly 300 by the early 1900’s. According to Troy Heiner, Executive Director, there are now 250,000 bison on the northern American continent (Canada and USA).
“Different Tribes have different views about the buffalo”. Heiner said. “For the Sioux that was the one who brought the Sacred Bunde and the Pipe. Those tell us how to go. We are related”.
ITBD currently has a membership of 83 Tribes in twenty states. All dedicated to the resurrection and protection of the buffalo.
“Buffalo are sacred to us,” said Hugh Clubfoot Northern Cheyenne elder. “The buffalo were a core of our existence as Plains Indians. They provided sustenance, the hides and leather to protect us, and the vision we needed to keep going. The buffalo and the Plains Indians were so connected. Yet, they are still here as are we. I do not exactly know what a white buffalo calf means. It might be something special. Maybe a signal that is we should protect them and they are still looking at us”.
(Contact Clara Caufield at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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