by Ryan Schuessler, AlJazeera
For the first time in almost two centuries, wild bison are roaming east of the Mississippi River.
Well, sort of. Even though the beasts have returned to northern Illinois, residents of Chicago should not expect to see them passing through the suburbs anytime soon. The bison were relocated to the Nachusa Grasslands, a conservation program dedicated to restoring Illinois’ native prairie, where they safely roam thousands of fenced-in acres.
“The idea of having bison at Nachusa has been around as long as the Nachusa project itself,” said Jeff Walk, the science director for the Nature Conservancy’s Illinois chapter. “They’ve been talking about this for 25 years.”
The 30 bison at Nachusa taken to Illinois at the end of last year are part of a regional trend: the rewilding of the Midwest. In recent years, conservation programs in several states in the region have reintroduced large mammals — such as black bears and elk — into areas they once inhabited, before they were hunted to the brink of extinction. In other places, species like wolves and mountain lions have naturally returned to their former habitats. Read the entire story.