University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
College of Biological Sciences
Bison enjoying the savanna landscape, photo by Chad ZirbelClassic oak savanna, photo by Jake MillerBison at the woodland edge, photo by Chad Zirbel

Bison and Savanna Research


As many of you may have heard, Cedar Creek began a new project in 2018 which brought bison to our oak savannas as part of our decades-long work on savanna dynamics and restoration. This exciting opportunity is funded by Minnesota’s Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, which helps maintain, restore and enhance Minnesota’s environment and natural resources. Below are some informational resources, updates, and answers to frequently asked questions. If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact Forest Isbell via email ( ).

Click here for our 1-page printable bison factsheet.

Click here to learn more about our savanna research and why bison are an important addition to our long-term restoration work.

Click here for an overview blog post, on our Eyes on the Wild trail camera blog.

Click here to read a science writer's perspective on her visit to the the herd.




In light of the coronavirus pandemic and following guidance from the University of Minnesota, public programming and access to facilities at Cedar Creek is on hold. We do not yet know what access will be available in 2021, though we are hopeful to have the gazebo and trail open in some capacity this summer!
The Fish Lake Nature Trail remains open for socially-distant hiking, walking, geocaching, bird-watching, skiing and more so you can still stop by for a visit! Directions are at Please obey all posted signages and stay to the trails that are open. 
While you wait for your chance to visit the herd in person again, we also recommend you check out Cedar Creek's trail camera project, Eyes on the Wild. You can help our scientists classify images of wildlife on the property, and there are PLENTY of pictures of the bison boys for you to enjoy!


Frequently Asked Questions

Will the bison be here year-round? The bison are only at Cedar Creek during the growing season, from approximately early June through some time in the fall (mid-September in 2018, mid-October in 2019 and 2020).

Where do the bison come from? Cedar Creek's bison herd is on loan each summer through a partnership with NorthStar Bison, who also provides bison to Belwin Conservancy for prairie restoration.

Will I be able to see the bison or will they be off limits to the public? Normally, while the bison are on site, our bison viewing gazebo is generally staffed on Saturdays. However, access to the gazebo is currently on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic and we do not have a date when we know it will reopen. Keep an eye on Cedar Creek’s website and facebook page for more details! 

Will I still be able to hike and ski on the Fish Lake Nature Trail? There will be no change in access to the Fish Lake hiking trail, which will remain open year-round and which is outside the bison enclosure. Similarly, there will be no change in access to the ski trails, which will remain open when there is snow on the ground (note that bison will not be present on the property when there is snow). As always, please remember that no dogs are ever allowed on the trails and that you must stick to the marked trails and roads to avoid damaging research projects.

What should I do if I see an escaped bison? Please call 911 and report your sighting to the dispatcher. This will initiate a phone tree that will alert Cedar Creek staff and project scientists, as well as the team in charge of retrieving the animal and returning it to the enclosure.

How many bison will there be? In summer 2018, there were 32 bison onsite for three months. In 2019, we hosted 17 males for nearly 5 months. 2020 brought us another 17 males. Numbers are being kept low to ensure that there will be plenty of grazeable land available for each bison.

I'm excited! How can I learn more about bison? We hope you'll attend a public event at Cedar Creek during the summer months, and come see our bison herd and our research project in person! While the bison are away from Cedar Creek, we recommend the National Parks Service series "Bison Bellows". This 52-week set of short articles from 2015 and 2016 covers bison ecology and history, celebrates the heros of bison conservation, and shares information about the 17 bison herds managed by the federal government. Check it out!


I have a question that isn't answered above!

We encourage you to submit your questions at We will respond as we are able and answers will be viewable at