Because you asked – Daniels Park bison herd update
Daniels Park bison herd and new spring calves.
By Elizabeth Wood West; photo courtesy of Denver Mountain Parks
Daniel’s Ridge resident Virginia Dawson recently contacted The Castle Pines Connection, wanting to know the outcome of our May 2011 story regarding water for the Daniels Park bison herd. Dawson asked, “Since we have not seen the bison in the south end of the park until just this past week, we wondered if the water situation is resolved. If the issue was resolved some time ago, why haven’t the bison roamed the south end of Daniels Park?”
Matt Brown, Operations Supervisor with Denver Mountain Parks (DMP), explained, “We worked with Castle Pines North Metropolitan District (CPNMD) on getting a water tap for the bison on the east side. In the spring of 2013, we brought the water line across the east pasture to the old well house. We still have two wells on the west side – one in Tall Bull Memorial Grounds and one at the caretaker’s house. We are somewhat concerned about the well at the caretaker’s house and would like to discuss the possibilities of a new potable water tap at the house with CPNMD.”
“Those magnificent bison remind us all of Colorado’s western culture and heritage. Our residents love the bison almost as much as they love their own families,” stated Ken Smith, director of communications for the CPNMD. “Of course we will continue working with Denver to provide water service to the bison herd and Daniels Park.”
There are currently thirty-six bison in the Daniels Park herd – two bulls, twenty females, and fourteen new spring calves. The bison have 858 acres, split into four pastures to graze on throughout the year. In 2011, Brown started rotating the bison to different pastures in order to get more natural seeding and grass growth on the east and west sides. According to Brown, the bison are easiest to move in the winter months because they willingly follow the hay truck. Brown starts feeding the herd in late October or early November, depending on how much snow has been received.
Brown said, “The bison generally tell us when it’s time to start feeding by showing up at the barn and following the feed truck around. We ask people to please not feed the bison, as they get plenty of natural forage during the summer months and they get fed a proper daily ration during the winter months. We market our bison to be 100 percent grass-fed, so feeding them other items, like apples and carrots, throws our feeding program out of whack. We generally stop feeding in early to mid-April,” said Brown.
Due to a limited yearly budget for hay, the herd is kept to between twenty to twenty-five adults. DMP has an annual bison auction at the Genesee Mountain Park bison ranch, where the calves and older adult bison are sold to other bison producers or interested buyers.
Brown mused that even though the bison have been in captivity for some time, they occasionally revert back to their wild ways and will play with everything inside their pastures – whether it be a 55-gallon plastic barrel or chasing a wind-blown empty plastic bag. Brown added, “They all have their own unique personalities, with some being more elusive than others and some very curious about their surroundings. Bison are an unpredictable animal and can move very fast in a short amount of time. We ask people to stay out of the pastures and encourage our neighbors and park users to call the Douglas County Sheriff’s office if they see anybody in with the bison.”
For more information, e-mail Matt Brown, firstname.lastname@example.org.