If all goes as planned, a herd of wild bison will be roaming the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve by early November.

A team from the national park is in South Dakota this week observing as about 20 wild bison are rounded up at the Wind Cave National Park in the Black Hills.
Tallgrass Prairie officials say the bison - ranging in age from 1 to 2 1/2 years - will be shipped to the Flint Hills by November. The plan is to eventually have a herd of about 100 bison roaming parts of the 11,000-acre tallgrass prairie near Strong City.

"We're excited about it because a lot of people consider buffalo to be a real symbolic species of the prairie," said Kristen Hase, chief of natural resources for the Flint Hills park. "We believe for visitors to be out there and see these animals on the landscape is going to be pretty neat."

There are other buffalo herds on private property in the Flint Hills, but this herd will be the eas iest for the public to see, Hase said.

The herd will be confined to an 1,100-acre pasture in the park, with tours expected to go through the pasture to allow visitors to see the animals.

The bison are scheduled to be shipped back to Kansas within the next week, but only after they are tested to ensure they don't carry any viruses that could harm livestock living near the Tallgrass Prairie.

The bison come from a herd of about 525 buffalo at Wind Cave that is one of only two federal herds in the country that have been genetically tested and found to be free of any cattle DNA.

"If you want to get a sense of what the Plains were like thousands of years ago, these are the bison that will bring that back to you," said Tom Farrell, a spokesman for Wind Cave.

The project to bring the bison to the Flint Hills is a partnership between The Nature Conservancy and the National Park Service. The nonprofit Nature Conservancy is buying the herd, but employees at the national park site will help care for the animals.

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