Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Southwest Region, March 17, 2006
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Acting Refuge Manager Ralph Bryant attended the Fish and Wildlife Service Bison Meeting March 15-16, 2006 held in Denver, CO. All refuges with Bison herds were represented at the meeting. Wichita Mountains has the largest herd with 575. Researchers suggest that the preferred Minimum Viable Population (MVP) is 500-1000. The National Bison Range and Fort Niobrara NWR’s maintain population herds near 350. 


Neal Smith NWR and Sullys Hill National Game Preserve each have about 33 Bison. Genetic testing that has been analyzed, shows most herds have adequate diversity, uniqueness and a very low percentage of hybridization with cattle. The hybridization probably occurred with the founding herds some 30-35 generations ago. The Sullys Hill herd is the only one that hybridization was not detected. The meeting focused on the Sullys herd and trying to formulate options to increase the herd to the MVP size. The Neal Smith herd is relatively new but has the lowest diversity. This herd will be totally dispersed and then replaced with about 30 select animals from the Bison Range. The Department of Interior Bison Meeting will be held June 14th & 15th at Valentine, NE and hosted by Ft. Niobrara NWR.


Contact Info: Martin Valdez, 505-248-6599, martin_valdez@fws.gov
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