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Bison Across the Border: Your Questions Answered

How many will be relocated? Do you pay customs fees? 

We transferred 73 bison after disease testing, vaccinations, and quarantine up at Elk Island in Alberta. The male to female ratio is nearly even. The total cost of relocating the bison, including the cost of the animals themselves as well as transportation, permits, and veterinarians, is about $100,000. Custom fees account for $1,000 of the expense.

By how much does the herd grow every year naturally? 

Bison normally breed at 2 years old, and 85% of female American Prairie bison aged 2+ have a calf each year. In 2014, we expect about 100 calves to be born to our 130 females (some are too young). Ten calves were born last year to one-year-old bison from Elk Island, and we theorize that an increase of fat and nutrients in their diet led to early estrus. (see below)

How do forage choices of new bison compare to veteran American Prairie bison? 

In this case, forage choices are determined by geography and climate; different plants are available on the prairie versus Elk Island. Sedges, which are low in protein and high in salt, make up the majority of a bison's diet at the park. Upon arrival on the prairie, the diet of Elk Island animals shifts to grass and forbs, which are high in protein, nutrients and carbs. We have not observed a difference in choices between veteran bison and new Elk Island animals grazing together.