bison

Sarah Boden / Iowa Public Radio

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) manages almost 1,400 bison spread out amongst seven herds located in Iowa, Colorado, Oklahoma, Montana, Nebraska and North Dakota.  About 70 of these bison live at the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge in Prairie City.

FWS aims to preserve the species genetic diversity with as little human intervention as possible by allowing the forces of natural selection determine which bison live and die.  However, because herds are isolated from each other the agency conducts genetic testing to prevent inbreeding.

Flickr / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Midwest Region

They were once more common than white tailed deer, but now bison live only in controlled and managed herds.  Today on Talk of Iowa Charity Nebbe talks about why bison are so captivating as well as the future of bison in North America.