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‘Where the buffalo roam’

Refuge's Bison Day hits the prairie Saturday

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017 2:36 p.m. CST • Updated: Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017 2:45 p.m. CST
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(File Photo)
Council Bluffs-area author John Price reads an excerpt from his anthology “ The Tallgrass Prairie Reader” at the annual Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge Bison Day in 2014. The free event is a way to spotlight refuge exhibits and educate visitors on the role Bison play in prairie restoration. This year's Bison day is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Volunteers and staff at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge want to take guests where the buffalo roam Saturday, as they present the federal facility’s annual Bison Day.

Refuge visitors will spend the day on the prairie and learn more about the large mammal which once ruled North America’s Great Plains. The free event is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Activities include live music, live wildlife displays, arts and crafts, games, discovery hikes, children’s story-time and a weaver’s guild demonstration. Participants will get the chance to participate in hands-on activities including archery, rope-making and a scavenger hunt.

Throughout the day, visitors can tour the bison and elk enclosure, see live bison and even listen in on a talk from a biologist to learn all about the herd at Neal Smith NWR.

The annual event began in the early 2000s as a way to increase the refuge profile and highlight the facility’s 67 bison. Bison Day volunteers, through Friends of the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge, have doubled in recent years, and refuge assistant manger Cheryl Groom said more than 100 visitors walked through the door by noon during last year’s event.

Demonstrations at past Bison Days included a Wigwam, hide cutting and bison burgers that inform visitors of many traditional uses for bison resources. Bison burgers and hot dogs will again be available for purchase this year.

A 2 p.m. Bison Chip Toss contest will complete the day’s activities with prizes for each of the winners.

For more information on the event, contact Doreen Van Ryswyk at 515-994-3400 or Doreen_vanryswyk@fws.gov.

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