Baby bison season is underway at Fermilab! The particle physics laboratory has a growing herd of over 40 bison and two bulls that grace the acres of prairie land on the campus.
Calf season keeps staff busy
The first calf of the season was born on April 13, with several others having now followed. Fermilab hopes for at least 22 new bison in 2023, as the calving season will likely run through the summer.
Fermilab’s bison herdsman Cleo Garcia runs a busy operation, as he and a team of 11 other workers tend to the bison daily.
“This time of the year, we check for signs of calving,” said Garcia. “And then feed them, check the fences, check for any medical issues.”
Garcia said a tell-tale sign of if a mother bison is ready to give birth is if they separate themselves from the rest of the herd.
History of the herd
Bison were brought to Fermilab in 1969 by the lab’s first director, Robert Wilson, who wanted to symbolize the lab being on the frontier of physics, much as the bison represent the frontier of the Wild West.
“They (have) plenty of room to go around,” said Garcia. “We separate the pastures, so they’re not always in one spot, they can change around.”
Most of the bison in this current herd are descendants of the original group. Fermilab did genetic testing on its herd in 2015 and confirmed there’s no evidence of cattle gene mixing, which means they are purebred bison.
How to visit the herd
Visitors are welcome to view the bison in person at Fermilab, which is located at the intersection of Kirk Road and Pine Street in Batavia.
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