Herd Of Bison Set To Move Into Prairie Near Chicago

JOLIET, Ill. (CBS) — Within three to five years, a herd of 75 bison may be moving into the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie about an hour southwest of Chicago.

As WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports, National Forest Foundation president Bill Posseil says the plan is for 75 bison at first, and ultimately possibly 1,000, once prairie supervisors figure how best to maintain them.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports

“They’ve been known to run 35 to 50 miles an hour. They can jump six feet,” Posseil said.

He says that will require some serious containment around several thousand acres.

“A very sturdy 10 to 12-foot fence will be required,” he said.

Posseil estimates it will cost $10 million dollars a year over the next 10 years for complete restoration of all 20,000 acres of the prairie, which is located on Interstate 55 just outside Joliet.

  • Marty W

    What a complete waste of money and resources. That’s $100,000 per bison when they get to the full herd plus the value of the land.
    It’s just what I want to run into a 1,200 pound bison with my car or just as bad having it jump through my windshield. We have enough problem with white tail deer.
    No big deal as it’s just tax money.

  • Heidi

    I think it’s a great idea! Restoring some land to its’ former natural state is important for the health of the planet and good for all of its’ inhabitants!

  • Lincoln Park Canine

    Do they eat coyotes?

    • Peroia Bison

      Yes we do! Now pass the BBQ sauce!

  • Elwood Jay

    Bison is good eats. This isn’t the first place Bison are in use in the National Park system people. Get over it; it’ll bring the area some tourist money. Reap it or lose out. Case in point: if you’re ever around Atlanta, go to Ted’s Montana Grill. That’s right, Ted Turner’s restaurant centered around Bison. Delicious. Delectable. Scotch. Superb.

  • Marty W

    If Ted or any other private citizen wants to have bison and pay for them and comply with appropriate laws that’s fine with me. If you want to raise them for food, that’s great too. Keep the bison out in MT and appropriate areas. There is no way there is going to be an economic return above the cost in this event. $100 million x 10% return (min target for most companies)is $10million per year for the project. If the local resturants get some benefit that’s great but it needs to get a return to the tax payers. It’s government gone amuck.

  • zatso

    This is a beautiful idea. People will love them, including my family, but let me warn you ahead of time.

    THERE WILL BE AN ACCIDENT! If one person is hurt, maimed, or killed– It will be one too many. Then, it is too late.

    Out west is were they belong. I speak from personal experience.

    As far as Turner”s burgers, they are expensive and not something to write home about.


  • JeanSC

    Hooray! I’ve been advocating for bison in Midewin since I first volunteered in the early planning process. Of course they belong there. This is part of their native range, and hardly the farthest east they ranged, before the scorched-earth, hide-hunting genocide. There are several fencing options. The ranchers’ truism is that to a bison, a fence is mainly a suggestion. They can jump over or bust down almost any affordable fence, but if they’re treated right, they’ll stay inside. One not-new idea is to use highway guard rails to build a bison fence. If it’ll stop a car, it’ll stop a bison. But there is that cost factor. As for height, I think Fermilab has a system which is lower than 10-12′. Bison meat is excellent, healthful food for people, and we get all the by-products from bison that we get from the alien beef cattle. The leather is stronger and more flexible. That was part of the impetus for the hide-hunters’ slaughter, after a tanning improvement came in. For the best bison meat, it’s necessary that they eat native foods, not human-provided grain. Too many bison ranchers feed bison grain, especially for “finishing,” to try to create a uniform product comparable to beef. This is harmful and misguided. It’s harmful to the human consumers, too, for the kind of fats a grain diet creates. Even Bill Kurtis has talked about this.

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