Community ‘crawl’ celebrates Bison Day
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.