Bison could soon roam at another Minnesota state park

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"Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam..."

Bison could soon be roaming at a second state park, giving Minnesotans the chance to see the animal up close in their natural habitat.

The Department of Natural Resources is looking to reintroduce bison to the Minneopa State Park, located just west of Mankato, which will give the public a chance to see and learn about the largest living land mammal in North America. (FYI: American bison are often referred to as buffalo, but buffalo are the species found in Africa and Asia, such as the water buffalo, the Mankato Free Press says).

"If we get bison, it would increase our prairie management efforts (at Minneopa)," Molly Tranel Nelson, regional resource specialist for parks and trails, told the Mankato Free Press. "And we want to increase opportunities for visitors. It would allow visitors to have that experience and interpretation, to see a little of what the area looked like prior to settlement."

About 350 acres at the park will be fenced off and populated with some of the bison currently living at the Blue Mounds State Park and the Minnesota Zoo, according to Minneopa State Park Management Plan Amendment. Blue Mounds State Park has some of the most genetically pure bison in the nation, the Pioneer Press says.

The DNR hopes to create something like a natural herd – they'll live off the land and won't be fed like cattle, the Star Tribune says. Conservation officials also think this setting is the best way to keep bison as genetically pure as possible by limiting the introduction of cattle genes, the newspaper says.

Minneopa State Park would be the second state park to have bison – roughly 40 of them could settle at the park as early as this fall. After that, other state parks could become home to the animal, the Star Tribune says.

The DNR is seeking public comments on the amendment. The amendment describes impacts and opportunities created by the reintroduction of bison to the park. Citizens can ask questions or submit comments until May 5. The DNR will also hold an open house at the Blue Earth County Public Library in Mankato on April 22.

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