A central Iowa wildlife refuge will get rid of some of its animals. Project Manager Nancy Gilbertson explains the herd of wild buffalo at the Neal Smith wildlife refuge near Prairie City is doing so well, it’s twice the size the region should be supporting, so the herd will be culled.Some will go to Indian tribes interested in starting or growing their own herd, some will go to other wildlife refuges like Jasper County’s, and others will be sold to bidders. There will be no restrictions on what owners can do with the bison. She says private ranchers would like to add genetic stock to their herds, but they can also simply buy them for slaughter. The animals are healthy, and won’t pose any danger to cattle.All came originally from other federal herds, and were inspected and found disease-free. The river-bottom refuge just off Interstate 35 has a “tour loop” that visitors can drive in hopes of seeing the burgeoning buffalo herd. The animals once roamed from North Dakota to Texas, and find the Iowa home a good place to thrive and multiply, even though park management policy is not to supplement the food they get from grazing. There are 71 buffalo at the Neal Smith refuge, about twice what the area’s normally expected to support.
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