University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
College of Biological Sciences
http://www.cbs.umn.edu/
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

THE BISON HAVE RETURNED! THE EXTENSION TRAIL (~1 MILE EACH DIRECTION) IS OPEN DAILY FROM 8AM - 4:30PM. THE BISON GAZEBO IS STAFFED ON SATURDAYS AND SUNDAYS FROM 9AM-11:30AM, AND 1PM - 3:30PM.

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.

 

 

THE BISON HAVE RETURNED!

THE EXTENSION TRAIL (~1 MILE EACH DIRECTION) IS OPEN DAILY FROM 8AM - 4:30PM. THE BISON GAZEBO IS STAFFED ON SATURDAYS AND SUNDAYS FROM 9AM-11:30AM, AND 1PM - 3:30PM.

The bison extension trail and the bison gazebo are open for the 2021 season! To provide safe access to as many visitors as want to come, the extension trail is open daily from 8am - 4:30pm for self-guided walking. The bison gazebo is staffed by volunteer naturalists on Saturdays and Sundays from 9am - 11:30am and from 1pm - 3:30pm for those who would like a more interactive experience. 
 
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 z.umn.edu/fishlake. Please obey all posted signages and stay to the trails that are open. 
 
Can't make it out to visit in person? We invite you to 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 her 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 late May 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? We hope so! The bison trail extension will be open daily, 8am - 4:30pm, for self-guided walking. The gazebo will be open and staffed with naturalists on Saturdays and Sundays, from 9am - 11:30am and from 1pm - 3:30pm. Keep an eye on Cedar Creek’s website and facebook page for more details on these and other opportunities to visit as they are scheduled! Do keep in mind that this is not a zoo - the bison have 210+ acres of rolling oak savanna to roam, and they may not be visible even during scheduled events or open hours!

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 and 2020, we hosted 17 males for nearly 5 months. 2021 has brought 16 bison to our oak savannas. 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 z.umn.edu/bisonquestions. We will respond as we are able and answers will be viewable at z.umn.edu/bisonFAQ