ND Capital Gallery Honors Buffalo with Bison Ballet Exhibit

ND Capital Gallery Honors Buffalo with Bison Ballet Exhibit

Dave Borlaug holds a “Bison Ballet” exhibit painted by Sally Chernenko at The Capitol Gallery in downtown Bismarck.

“One of the most remarkable displays we’ve ever had is the Bison Ballet Exhibit,” says David Borlaug, Co-Director of The Capital Gallery. “22 artists with 70 pieces.”

Some of the artists exhibiting are Kaye Burian, Sam Coleman, James McCulloch, Walter Piehl, Marcella Rose, Monte Yellow Bird and Butch Thunder Hawk.

“Each, in their own way, expressing how these ‘Primas of the Plains,’ look though their mind’s eye,” adds co-director Marci Narum. “From highly detailed, representational paintings, to expressive or abstract, along with bronzes and other three-dimensional works, it’s a fascinating display.”

It’s true that when people think about North Dakota, one of the first things to come to mind is bison—or buffalo. They are an inspiration to many.

“No subject matter has been more popular. I mean, here we are on the Northern Plains. The monarch of the plains. But whether it’s realistic, expressive or abstract people love Bison,” said Borlaug.

Branches of The Capital Gallery are also in Fargo and Medora—in Medora at the Herald Schafer Heritage Center. Borlaug says after the show closes Oct 19, they will be restaging exhibits and moving art work back and forth between the three Galleries. 

All items are for sale, and the Galleries also have gift shops. Open Monday through Saturday 10 am-5 pm. Sundays by appointment.

It’s the love for bison in the Peace Garden State that has artists like Linda Donlin wanting to take part in the show.

“We could go out to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park and see them and photograph them and appreciate the beauty and understand what they’ve meant to the people that came before us. And that for the people that will go ahead of us and still have them to appreciate,” explained Donlin.

Donlin’s knife painting method is seen in both of the pieces of art she has on display in the Bison Ballet.

In Spring Storm, she has a mother and her calf grazing in the Badlands, and in A Bison Rising, she chose to focus on the beauty of the animal.

“They have such beautiful, soulful eyes and I wanted to show this very majestic bison on a bluff and looking out and have this beautiful sunrise behind him. Then the name just came to me: A Bison Rising,” said Donlin.

The gallery is covered in one-of-a-kind renditions of the bison.

“From ceramic to bronze sculptures to clay and of course the myriad of canvasses,” explained Borlaug.

Borlaug says Bison Ballet also shows an array of artists from newcomers to familiar faces they’ve worked with in the past. (Credits to Bismarck Tribune and Nexstar Media, 2021.)

Francie M Berg

Author of the Buffalo Tales &Trails blog

Bison Center Construction in Park Progressing Well

 RAPID CITY — Construction of the Bison Center in Custer State Park is progressing nicely, even as officials make plans for even more building improvements in the park.

Scott Simpson, director of the state parks and recreation division told the Game, Fish and Parks Commission that the majority of the dirt work and utility work is completed at the planned Bison Center. Water lines have been run, footings have been poured and walls are getting ready be poured before winter, he said. The building, Simpson said, is a package that will be shipped as soon as crews have completed the pours and have everything in place.

“Right now we are making sure that the area looks good for Roundup,” Simpson said about the annual Buffalo Roundup that is scheduled for Sept. 23-25. “We want to make sure that our construction doesn’t impact that event.”

The Bison Center is a $5 million building that will serve as a large visitor’s center. It’s primary purpose will be to tell the story of the bison, including the importance of buffalo to manage Custer State Park and the animal’s importance to the Native American culture.  The project is funded primarily with a $4 million gift from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, a $500,000 allocation from the S.D. Legislature, $170,000 from the S.D. Parks and Wildlife Foundation, and other private donations.

During his presentation to the commission, Simpson also said the department is looking into options for improving the Sylvan Lake Store. He explained that Custer State Park has a concessionaire that pays a franchise fee to the state for operations. Most of that money is used to pay off the state’s bond obligations for improvements in the park, but lately the revenues have greatly exceeded the amount of the payment, leaving the park with a reserve amount. By law, the state is required to use those additional revenues to make improvements in the park or to enhance concessions.

“One of the biggest sore spots we have in the park is Sylvan Lake,” Simpson said. “It’s a building that has lived its life cycle.”

Simpson said park staff is working with an architect who will help the department come up with a plan to improve the building, and give cost estimates. He hopes to be able to start construction in the fall of 2022.

When Bison Attack in Yellowstone, They Don’t Care If It’s a Car

(From Laramie Live)

If you’ve gone to YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok or any other type of social media page, there’s a good chance you’ve seen Bison getting angry. 2021 has been a record setting year for attendance in Yellowstone National Park and we’ve seen MANY videos, pictures and heard stories of Bison/Human interactions. Stay 25 yards away from bison when you see them in Yellowstone.

The American Bison is a magnificent sight! They’re big, bad and don’t take crap off of anyone or anything. According to this first video that was put up this past Augusts of a Bison going head first into the rear bumper of a Chevy Impala and rips it off.



Francie M Berg

Author of the Buffalo Tales &Trails blog

Alaska biologists say wood bison reintroduced to the wild are thriving

Alaska biologists say wood bison reintroduced to the wild are thriving

Alaska wood bison. Wood bison are the largest native land mammals in the Western Hemisphere. (Photo by Laura Whitehouse/USFWS)

August 21, 2021 by Mary Auld, KUAC – Fairbanks

State biologists completed an annual survey of the Innoko-Yukon River wood bison population earlier this summer, and they say the results show the animals are doing well six years after a seed group of bison was released in the area.

Biologists counted 103 wood bison this summer — an increase of more than 10% from last year’s herd size. Twenty-six calves joined the herd this year — the most the herd has produced since it was established in 2015. The survey also showed that the animals are in better physical condition than in previous years.

Darren Bruning,  a regional wildlife conservation supervisor for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said the survey shows the bison are succeeding in the wild.

Bruning flew along in the plane that took photos for the count. He said seeing a thriving herd of wood bison in the Innoko-Yukon River area is a testament to members of the public who advocated for the reintroduction and Fish and Game.

“So to see them in the wild is almost indescribable. It’s extremely rewarding, and I feel good for everyone, knowing the bison are there,” he said.

According to Bruning, the herd’s success in the last year is related to weather. The population tends to decline when a layer of ice forms on top of the snow during spring rains. That barrier prevents bison from accessing the food they need, so fewer animals survive. That wasn’t the case this year, Bruning says.

“The bison probably had more consistent access to forage, which led to healthier cows that were carrying calves, and therefore more calves were born,” he said.

The wood bison were released onto the landscape in 2015 after years of planning. Ken Chase represented Grayling, Anvik, Shageluk and Holy Cross on the Alaska Wood Bison Management Planning Team. Chase said people who live in his area supported the reintroduction because they wanted to hunt the bison.

“We just wanted to see something positive done, you know, with our area, we have no oil development, we have no gas development and so we look to the food source instead,” he said.

Despite the herd’s success this year, biologists say it will be several years before there are enough animals to hunt. But Chase said local people are willing to be patient.

“The main thing is just to try to maintain the herd and let the animals get used to the environment and how to survive,” he said.

Chase hopes once the bison are available for hunting it will provide opportunities for local people. Residents could get involved in managing the bison. Hunters from out of state could bring revenue to the villages. Bison meat could be processed locally. Animals from the herd could be transported to other places to re-establish wild bison. But mostly, Chase wants his people to eat the meat themselves.

Francie M Berg

Author of the Buffalo Tales &Trails blog

Conservationist aims to replace old bridge with bison preserve

Conservationist aims to replace old bridge with bison preserve

Sketch of possible future wildlife crossing links Iowa and Illinois across Mississippi. Photo credit Bison Bridge Foundation.

To benefit environment and spotlight Native American history

Between Iowa and Illinois, spanning a stretch of Mississippi River that flows from east to west, sits an exhausted 55-year-old concrete bridge. Each day 42,000 cars drive across the ageing structure, which is slated to be torn down and replaced.

But when Chad Pregracke looks at the bridge, he has a different vision entirely—not an old overpass to be demolished, but a home for the buffalo to roam.

The conservationist and local hero hails from the Quad Cities, a 300,000-person metropolitan area spanning two states on either side of the Mississippi River. It is known for its four cities: Bettendorf and Davenport in south-eastern Iowa and Moline and Rock Island in northwestern Illinois.

Pregracke spends months every year living on barges and cleaning up refuse from the Mississippi and he has brought his passion for the river to his latest project: converting the ailing bridge into a buffalo preserve. The idea came to him four years ago as he drove across the bridge one day, he says: “I thought, what if we made this a wildlife crossing?”

Now, his unlikely vision is being taken seriously. The departments of transportation in Iowa and Illinois are considering the proposal, which would break ground in as little as five years.

If completed, the bridge would become the longest human-made wildlife crossing in the world. The plan would see a new bridge built further down the river, where car traffic will be rerouted, and the existing bridge converted for use by humans and American bison—colloquially known as buffalo.

On one side would stand a pedestrian path and bike path and on the other an enclosed bison paddock that would let visitors see eye to eye with the huge creatures. The herds would be free to roam between Iowa and Illinois in the grassy expanse, and the project would establish the first national park in either state.
(The Guardian: Kari Paul Jun 27, 2021 06.00 EDT, https://apple.news/AFHknhgUCSwWPYZSwqri7zA)

Francie M Berg

Author of the Buffalo Tales &Trails blog

Bison Sponsor, Sen. Enzi Dies After Bicycle Accident

Bison Sponsor, Sen. Enzi Dies After Bicycle Accident

Former U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, a longtime champion for bison producers, died Monday
after sustaining serious injuries in a recent bicycle accident near his home in Gillette, Wyoming.

Enzi, who was 77, “passed away peacefully” while surrounded by his family, a statement read. “His family expresses their deep appreciation for all of the prayers, support and concern. They now ask for privacy and continued prayers during this difficult time.”

Enzi’s family said he was admitted to UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, Colorado. He was unconscious and unable to recover from his injuries, which included a broken neck and ribs, the family said.

Enzi fell near his home about 8:30 p.m. Friday, a family friend said, around the time Gillette police received a report of a man lying unresponsive in a road near a bike.

Enzi, a Republican, led the drive in the early 2000s to have the U.S. Mint issue a limited-edition Buffalo Nickel in commemoration of the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Voyage of Discovery. When the coin was officially issued in February 2005, Enzi helped preside over a Capitol Hill ceremony that featured Cody the Buffalo from Dances with Wolves.

He was also the original sponsor of the annual Senate resolution designating the first Saturday in November as National Bison Day and was an original co-sponsor of the Bison Legacy Act, which resulted in bison being designated as the National Mammal of the United States in 2016.

He was honored in 2010 with the National Bison Association’s first-ever Friend of the Buffalo Award. The plaque presented to Enzi at the 2010 Winter Conference honored the Senator, “For His Leadership and Commitment to the Stewardship of a Species, The Success of our Producers, And the Integrity of our Products.”

John Flocchini, former NBA president and Wyoming bison rancher, noted, “Senator Enzi was a strong and consistent ally of the NBA, and everyone in our business. He was always available to meet with our annual delegation in Washington, D.C. and eager to support our legislative priorities.

“Having known him personally for many years, he was a genuinely good man, and was committed to bipartisan cooperation throughout his time in the Senate.”

Enzi, a Republican, retired in January after four terms as Senator. He previously was a state lawmaker and mayor of Gillette, where he owned a shoe store.
NBA Weekly Update, Aug 6, 2021.

Francie M Berg

Author of the Buffalo Tales &Trails blog

Turner Institute of Ecoagriculture to collaborate with South Dakota State University Center of Excellence for Bison Studies

Pierre, SD / DRG News
Jody Heemstra
Jul 2, 2021

Turner Enterprises, Inc. and Turner Ranches announced today the launch of the Turner Institute of Ecoagriculture, Inc. (“Institute”). The Institute is a 501(c)(3) public charity and agricultural research organization formed by Ted Turner, whose history of sustainable ranching and animal production, natural resource conservation, and imperiled species restoration spans over three decades.

Turner currently owns 14 ranches in the U.S. (and a herd of approximately 45,000 American plains bison) that practice ranching in an economically sustainable and ecologically sensitive manner while promoting the conservation of native species and habitats.

The Institute’s mission is to research, develop, practice, and disseminate sustainable strategies and techniques for conserving ecosystems, agriculture, and rural communities.

The Institute’s mission is to research, develop, practice, and disseminate sustainable strategies and techniques for conserving ecosystems, agriculture, and rural communities.

“Our company’s passion for the environment, conservation and sustainable practices continues to drive our mission of innovatively managing our lands to unite economic viability with ecological sustainability,” said Ted Turner.

Five Turner ranches are in the Sandhills region of western Nebraska, encompassing approximately 445,000 acres of North American Great Plains mixed grass prairie. Turner is contributing the McGinley Ranch, located in the northern Sandhills region, and all its operations to the Institute. McGinley Ranch straddles the border between Nebraska and South Dakota and is comprised of 79,292 contiguous acres of native rangeland. It is contemplated that the remaining four ranches in the Sandhills area (collectively, the “Sandhills Ranches”) may be transferred to the Institute in the future.

The Turner Institute of Ecoagriculture, an agricultural research organization, is a Nebraska nonprofit corporation operated exclusively for charitable, scientific, and educational purposes, within the meaning of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Turner Ranches continues to be involved in diverse areas of research concerning animal and environmental sciences. Bison production, finishing, welfare, physiology, and ecology have been areas of research interest. Our research has also focused on issues in restoration ecology and imperiled species conservation. Wildlife and bison diseases have been investigated, as has climate change, ecosystem services, and landscape ecology. With the creation of the Turner Institute of Ecoagriculture, the tradition of research in these areas will continue and thrive with the Institute’s focus on complex ecoagriculture issues.

Francie M Berg

Author of the Buffalo Tales &Trails blog

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