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Mikkel Pates, Agweek

Rare bison given new home in Minnesota state park

MANKATO, Minn. — A group of genetically rare bison has been released into a Minnesota state park.

 Minneopa State Park near Mankato is the new home of 11 bison largely free of genetic markers that would come from cross-breeding with cattle. Less than 6 percent of the half-million bison in North America have such genetics.

 The release of the herd is part of a Minnesota Zoo and state Department of Natural Resources effort to expand the state’s bison headcount from 90 to 500, according to a DNR release. Officials noted the Minneopa herd is expected to grow to 30 to 40 bison.

“We are excited about our bison conservation partnership with the DNR,” said Tony Fisher, Minnesota Zoo director of animal collections. “The Minnesota Zoo works on animal conservation projects around the world and we are proud to now be helping a rare species right here in Minnesota.”

To allow the bison to acclimate to their new home, Minneopa State Park’s campground will be closed through mid-October, said DNR Parks and Trails regional manager Kathy Dummer. The park office and waterfalls area of the park remains open.

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