Chicago (CBS) – Baby bison season officially kicked off this morning as the first calf of the year was born at Fermilab.

The first calf of the year was born in the early morning hours, with a second appearing before noon. The first two baby bison calves are healthy and keeping up with their mothers, walking and nursing.

baby bison 1 Baby Bison Born at Fermilab

First bison calf of the year born at Fermilab. (Credit: Fermilab)

baby bison 2 Baby Bison Born at Fermilab

Baby bison born at Fermilab. (Credit: Fermilab)

Fermilab is expecting between 10 and 14 new calves this spring, and all of our neighbors are welcome to come on site to visit with and photograph the newborns. The Fermilab site is located at Kirk Road and Pine Street in Batavia, Illinois and is open every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is free. You’ll need a valid photo ID to enter the site.

Fermilab’s first director, Robert Wilson, established the bison herd in 1969 as a symbol of the history of the Midwestern prairie and the laboratory’s pioneering research at the frontiers of particle physics. The herd remains a major attraction for families and wildlife enthusiasts.

Thanks to the science of genetic testing, Fermilab’s ecologist Ryan Campbell confirmed that the laboratory’s herd is 100 percent bison, with no cattle genes. Farmers during the early settlement era would breed bison with other bovine species to keep them from extinction, but Fermilab’s bison are purebred.

A herd of pure bison is a natural fit for a prairie ecosystem, like the kind that exists on the Fermilab site. Fermilab hosts 1,100 acres of reconstructed tall-grass prairie.

Fermilab also offers educational information, including areas to learn about ecological efforts by hiking the Interpretive Prairie Trail, a half-mile-long trail located near the Pine Street entrance in Batavia.

Fermilab offers several annual traditions including a family open house and STEM career expo.

For up-to-date information for visitors, please visit www.fnal.gov or call 630-840-3351.

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