Rawhide Bison Herds
The land around the Rawhide Energy Station is home to two herds of American bison. Their ancestors roamed the plains around Rawhide and northern Colorado. The bison herds serve as Platte River’s environmental ambassadors, demonstrating that wildlife can coexist in harmony with responsibly operated generation facilities.
The original herd was purchased in November 1983 from a ranch in Wray, Colorado. This original herd numbered nine cows, 10 calves and one mature bull, “The Duke of Wellington.” The animals are descendents of a Haxtun, Colorado, herd begun over 50 years ago by the Roger Cunningham family whose herd descended from the herd at Custer State Park in South Dakota.
The herd was purchased through an “Adopt-a-Buffalo” program proposed by Platte River’s first general manager Albert J. Hamilton and approved by Platte River’s Board of Directors. A total of 28 businesses, groups and individuals donated funds to purchase the original herd, including 21 Platte River employees.
Herd counts have ranged from 20 to 51. The original herd was split into an upper and lower herd in 1999 to preserve bloodlines. As of April 2010, the lower herd has 14 animals plus Zuni; the upper herd has 15 animals plus Viking.
There are currently two herd bulls–Ft. Peck’s Mandan Bear “Viking” (born in 1999) and Zuni Red Bird (born in 1994). Each bull weighs approximately one ton (2,000 lbs).
Since 1986, Platte River has entered numerous animals in the National Bison Association (NBA) Gold Trophy Show and Sale at the National Western Stock Show each January. These animals have received many awards in addition to many honorable mentions.
Since 2007, Platte River has entered animals in the Peak to Peak Bison Show and Sale winning numerous awards.
In 1997, Platte River was named producer of the year during the NBA Gold Trophy Show and Sale at the National Western Stock Show, receiving the Tony Heim Memorial Award. In 2010, Platte River was named producer of the year at the Peak to Peak Bison Show and Sale.
Platte River employees are responsible for herd management and provide water, supplemental feed and rotate the herds from pasture to pasture in addition to assisting the herd veterinarian, Dr. Robert Mortimer, DVM, Colorado State University, when needed.
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