Wind Cave National Park

Wind Cave National Park

Biologists fight to save rare bison bloodlines

October 12, 2009, 8:42 am
The fence between Custer State Park and Wind Cave National Park has dutifully separated neighboring bison herds for decades.

But the fence, made of nondescript woven wire, has taken on new importance with a recent scientific discovery involving the pedigree of the Wind Cave herd.

Blood tests indicate that the buffalo roaming Wind Cave National Park are rare — so rare that they are among only two public herds in the nation credited with a crucial genetic distinction.

They lack evidence of cattle genes.

Experts from Texas A&M University have done extensive testing of buffalo DNA to help guide bison conservationists. After testing more than 10,000 bison, the team is confident that only two public herds — in Wind Cave and Yellowstone National Parks — lack evidence of cattle genes.