Here’s something both sides of the aisle in Washington can really get behind: the 2,000-pound leviathan known as the American bison. Earlier this week, the Senate passed bipartisan legislation making the hulking hairy beast the national mammal.
This means, of course, that Minnesota and the rest of the heartland should no longer be considered flyover country (except by the national bird, the eagle). This is bison territory, home-on-the-range style.
So where can we find the beasts, beyond the occasional bison farm? You do not have to travel far.
A herd numbering near 100 roams the prairie at Blue Mounds State Park in Luverne. That thriving population got its start in 1961, when three animals were brought to the park from a wildlife refuge in Nebraska. The range is vast, so you can’t be assured of a sighting, but when I was last at the park, the bison lolled near the visitors’ center like a welcoming committee.
Now, a herd of buffalo relishes the Minnesota landscape even closer to the Twin Cities. This year, part of the Blue Mounds crew was moved to a new home at Minneopa State Park in Mankato. For a close-up view, tour Bison Drive. Winter hours are 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday.