Bison are rounded up at Broken Kettle Ranch in Iowa to be transported to Nachusa, Oct. 2014.
Ferran Salat Coll/The Nature Conservancy
Out on the range, the buffalo are roaming once again.
After a nearly 200-year absence, a small herd of bison have been
reintroduced to the Nachusa Grasslands in north-central Illinois, two
hours outside of Chicago. This marks the first time since the 1830s that
the shaggy beasts have set their hooves east of the Mississippi River.
The bison were trucked in last October to graze, spread seeds and churn the soil — all essential to restore Illinois’s tallgrass prairies.
“The word that keeps coming up is surreal,” says Jeff Walk, director of science for The Nature Conservancy’s Illinois chapter,
which is heading up the Nachusa preservation efforts. Walk rode with
the animals during their eight-hour truck ride from Sioux City, Iowa,
and stuck around late into the night to see them unloaded from their trailers.
It was a moment The Nature Conservatory staff had been anticipating for a quarter-century.