On Wednesday, April 18, baby bison season officially began. The first calf of the year was born in the early morning hours, with a second appearing before noon. The first two baby bison calves are healthy and keeping up with their mothers, walking and nursing.
Fermilab is expecting between 10 and 14 new calves this spring, and all of our neighbors are welcome to come on site to visit with and photograph the newborns. (They are always a hit with young children.) The Fermilab site is open every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and admission is free. You’ll need a valid photo ID to enter the site.
Fermilab’s first director, Robert Wilson, established the bison herd in 1969 as a symbol of the history of the Midwestern prairie and the laboratory’s pioneering research at the frontiers of particle physics. The herd remains a major attraction for families and wildlife enthusiasts.
And thanks to the science of genetic testing, Fermilab’s ecologist confirmed that the laboratory’s herd shows no evidence of cattle gene mixing. Farmers during the early settlement era would breed bison with cattle in an attempt to create more tame bison or more hardy cattle.
A herd of bison is a natural fit for a natural laboratory. Fermilab hosts nearly 1,000 acres of reconstructed tallgrass prairie, as well as remnant oak savannas, marshes and forests.
While you’re at the Fermilab site visiting the bison, you can learn more about our ecological efforts by hiking the Interpretive Prairie Trail, a half-mile-long trail located near the Pine Street entrance in Batavia. The Lederman Science Center also offers exhibits on the prairie and hands-on physics displays. The Lederman Center hours are Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. And the 15th floor of Wilson Hall is open to the public Monday-Friday from 8 am to 4:30 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Fermilab is America’s premier national laboratory for particle physics and accelerator research. A U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science laboratory, Fermilab is located near Chicago, Illinois, and operated under contract by the Fermi Research Alliance LLC, a joint partnership between the University of Chicago and the Universities Research Association, Inc. Visit Fermilab’s website at www.fnal.gov and follow us on Twitter at @Fermilab.
The DOE Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.