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Bison groups, SDSU launch new national research center

The Center of Excellence for Bison Studies will be located in Rapid City, S.D.

September 18, 2020

3 Min Read
Bison grazing in the plains
RESEARCH FOCUS: A bison grazes prairie grass. The new Center of Excellence for Bison Studies will focus on research that benefits bison herd health. hartmanc10/Getty Images

South Dakota State University, the National Bison Association and the National Buffalo Foundation formally launched the Center of Excellence for Bison Studies. It will be headquartered at SDSU’s West River Research and Extension facility in Rapid City, S.D.

The Center of Excellence for Bison Studies will be coordinated through SDSU but will include active participation by researchers and Extension officials from other land grant universities, including tribal land grant colleges and universities.

The center will focus on research activities to improve bison herd health and production and the economic viability of both private and tribal bison producers.

“We will be pulling together the leading experts in their fields to help us gain a better understanding of this animal and the ecosystems it lives in, and to develop new resources for the people who raise bison,” says Kristi Cammack, the center’s director.

Plans for the Center of Excellence began in May 2017 when leaders of the National Buffalo Foundation, the National Bison Association’s Science and Research Committee, and Sinte Gleska University met with SDSU researchers.

“We realized that there were many un-answered questions regarding all aspects of bison, ranging from their role in the landscapes they occupy to their importance in Native American culture to their significance in agriculture,” says Bill Gibbons, South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station director and SDSU associate dean for research. “And, we recognized that there are many qualified researchers interested in taking on those projects. What was missing was a unified commitment to bring together the resources to support that research.”

Bison are once again coming back to Tribal lands across the country, according to Phil Baird, provost of Sinte Gleska University in South Dakota.

“Being a part of the Center will help Tribal managers as they restore both cultural herds and grow Tribal nation-building herds,” he says.

The Center of Excellence represents a significant milestone in the restoration of bison herds to North America, according to Dave Carter, National Bison Association executive director.

“Our knowledge on how best to manage our herds has evolved through a lot of trial and error, supplemented by scattered studies at universities across North America,” he says. “The Center of Excellence will bring together academicians, ranchers, and tribal bison managers in a collaborative commitment to help us be better stewards of our herds.

“The National Bison Association’s Science and Research Committee will work closely with the Center’s leadership to identify key research and outreach priorities.”

The National Buffalo Foundation, a non-profit charitable foundation dedicated to being the major trusted funding source for bison research and education, will begin a major fundraising campaign in the coming months to provide the resources to underwrite the Center’s initial research projects.

“Having the Center of Excellence in place and with SDSU’s direct involvement, we all see a much broader view of the future of bison, while at the same time opening many fresh opportunities to expand our fundraising initiatives,” says Cecil Miskin, chairman of the foundation.

Cammack will oversee the day-to-day operations of the center under the direction of an 11-member board comprised of SDSU, National Bison Association and National Buffalo Foundation officials, bison ranchers and tribal representatives.

Source: SDSU, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

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