Com­mu­nity ‘crawl’ cel­e­brates Bi­son Day

Daily Southtown (Sunday) - - News - By Su­san De­Mar Laf­ferty slaf­ferty@tribpub.com

A com­mu­nity-wide “Bi­son Crawl” is be­ing held Nov. 3 to cel­e­brate Na­tional Bi­son Day and honor Amer­ica’s na­tional mam­mal.

Co-host­ing this event are MidewinNa­tional Tall­grass Prairie, the For­est Pre­serve Dis­trict ofWill County, Two Hounds An­tiques in Wilm­ing­ton, the Man­hat­tan-El­wood Pub­lic Li­brary and the Wilm­ing­ton Pub­lic Li­brary.

At the Midewin Na­tional Tall­grass Prairie stop, vol­un­teers and staff will be avail­able from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. along the Iron Bridge Trail where par­tic­i­pants can ex­plore the prairie and look for the small bi­son herd that roams over 1,000 acres there.

Bi­son were brought to the prairie in 2015 as a 20-year con­ser­va­tion ex­per­i­ment to see if the herd’s graz­ing pat­tern en­cour­ages the re­turn of na­tive Illi­nois prairie plants, in­sects, birds and other species.

The Iron Bridge Trail­head at Midewin is lo­cated on the east side of Illi­nois Route 53, be­tween El­wood and Wilm­ing­ton, and is north of the Midewin Wel­come Cen­ter.

The cen­ter, 30239 S. Route 53, in Wilm­ing­ton, also will be open. Afilm will be shown about Midewin’s bi­son, and vol­un­teers and staff will be avail­able to an­swer ques­tions. Ed­u­ca­tional items for pre­sen­ta­tions — known as “bi­son bags” — can be checked out year-round at the cen­ter.

The For­est Pre­serve Dis­trict’s Sugar Creek Ad­min­is­tra­tion Cen­ter, 17540 W. Lar­away Road, Joliet, is an­other stop on the Crawl. Here, staff will be on site from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to dis­cuss all things about bi­son, and will lead prairie ecol­ogy hikes, high­light­ing Bi­son roam the land at Midewin Na­tional Tall­grass Prairie, which will cel­e­brate Na­tional Bi­son Day on Nov. 3 with a com­mu­ni­ty­wide Bi­son Crawl.

the bi­son’s role inthe prairie ecosys­tem.

The­hikes are ex­pected to last about 30 min­utes, with four hikes sched­uled to start at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. The time and length of each hike may vary.

The bi­son chip throw­ing con­test will take place at the close of each prairie ecol­ogy hike. Each per­son­par­tic­i­pat­ing in a hike will have an op­por­tu­nity to throw a bi­son chip.

The one who throws a chip the far­thest will win a prized bi­son skull do­nated by Ruhter Bi­son Farm in New­man, Ill.

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the farm also will speak about the farm’s his­tory, prac­tices and prod­ucts re­lated to bi­son. Par­tic­i­pants can view a bi­son pelt, horns, jawand shoul­der bone.

In Wilm­ing­ton, Two Hounds An­tiques, 315 N. Wa­ter St., will present nat­u­ral shop­ping and learn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. John Gar­dener will talk about the im­por­tance of bees and bee­keep­ing. Food items, bi­son goods and hand­made leather goods will be for sale. Hours will ex­tend beyond the day’s 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. time frame.

At the Man­hat­tan-El­wood Pub­lic Li­brary, 240 Whit­son St., Man­hat­tan, and the Wilm­ing­ton Pub­lic Li­brary, 201 S. Kanka­kee St., dis­plays will in­clude bi­son teeth, bones and small pelts. Both li­braries will host bi­son learn­ing sta­tions for the twoweeks be­fore BisonDay and on Nov. 3. Books and movies about bi­son will be part of the dis­plays.

Those un­able to at­tend the Bi­son Crawl can learn about the herd in other ways.

In De­cem­ber 2016, a Bi­son Cam link ( bit. ly/ 2hmPH72) was in­tro­duced at Midewin in part­ner­ship with Na­tional For­est Foun­da­tion.

When the bi­son are vis­i­ble in the web cam, the pub­lic is no­ti­fied on Midewin’s Face­book page and Twit­ter (@Midewin NatTP).

Last year, the Midewin bi­son herd was fea­tured in an episode of the PBS show “Trav­els with­Dar­ley.”

Also, in 2017, WGN-Ch. 9 fea­tured a seg­ment on the bi­son. To view it, go to www.wgntv.com/2017/06/ 15/ bi­son- project- in- wil ming­ton-illi­nois.

RICK SHORT/USDA FOR­EST SER­VICE

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