A 30-pound rare white bison calf hit the ground at the Bear River State Park near Evanston, Wyoming, at about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Park Superintendent Tyfani Sager said the new baby is small, but by all accounts doing well.
The as-yet unnamed baby’s sex remains unknown, but it’s been up and nursing from its mother, named Wyoming Hope.
It’s too early to say if the baby will reach a level of social media fame like some of Wyoming’s other charismatic megafauna, including Grizzly 399 or the Daniel drop tine buck called “The King,” but Sager said there’s been an uptick in tourist traffic at the park this week.
“We’re not sure if it’s a bull calf or a heifer calf,” Sager said. “They’re real furry and it’s hard to tell right off the bat.”
She added that bison cows are protective of their young.
The birth of an albino white bison is a 1-in-10 million event, according to the National Bison Association. The white bison is a sacred sign to the Lakota Sioux and other plains tribes.
This new baby is off-the-charts cute, but the genetics that made it white come from Charolais cattle — and it’s not albino, Sager said.
That tells this animal is fun-special but not especially genetically unique. It’s like the difference between finding an arrowhead and finding the Hope Diamond.
Bear River State Park received two white bison heifers in 2021 from Jackson Fork Ranch in Bondurant. Sager said the second heifer is not expected to produce a calf until next spring.
The new mother, Wyoming Hope, was bred by one of the resident bulls at the park.
“Most of the bison you find anymore have some cattle genetics,” Sager said. “They were nearly hunted to extinction by the late 1800s. People got concerned about extinction and cattle inbreeding was used. A white bison birth is still fairly rare.”
The 328-acre park is home to 10 adult bison and five calves. Tuesday’s birth was the first white bison born there.
Bison were first brought to this park on the edge of Evanston from Hot Springs State Park near Thermopolis in 1992.
Easy To Spot
Sager, who has worked at Bear River State Park for 18 years, said it won’t be difficult to get a look at the new baby from somewhere along the park’s 8 to 10 miles of trails.
There are also three bull elk living in the park and more baby bison are expected this spring.
The park is all river bottom habitat and there are a lot of birds migrating and nesting there now, Sager said. She added that the Bear River is the longest river in the western hemisphere that does not reach an ocean. It passes through three states and it’s 500 miles from its headwaters in the Uinta Mountains to where it pours into the Great Salt Lake.
The park also hosts a mountain man rendezvous in August, scavenger hunts and student tours and several other educational and interpretive activities, Sager said.
Entrance is free, but the park closes at night.