Life on the Plains Good for Platte River Power’s American Bison Herds

FORT COLLINS -- It's calving season on the plains surrounding Platte River Power Authority's Rawhide Energy Station north of Fort Collins. The calves join the two American Bison herds that have been Platte River's environmental ambassadors since the first animals arrived in 1983. So far, nine calves have been born this spring with another nine expected. The plains around Rawhide are historically American bison grazing grounds.

Platte River and Colorado State University Large Animal Sciences work together making sure the health of the herd is maintained. Dr. Bob Mortimer, DVM, provides veterinary services and assists with the National Bison Association Gold Trophy Show and Sale at the National Western Stock Show entries each year. Platte River has entered animals in the Gold Trophy Show and Sale every year since 1986. In 1997, Platte River was named Producer of the Year.

The original herd, made up of nine cows, ten calves and one bull, the Duke of Wellington, was purchased in November 1983 and are descended from the herd at Custer State Park in South Dakota. The funds used to purchase the herd came from an Adopt-a-Buffalo program initiated by Platte River’s first general manager, Albert J. Hamilton. A total of 28 businesses, groups and individuals donated funds.

The original herd was separated into two in 1999 for bloodline considerations. Two mature bulls watch over their individual herds--the upper with 14 bison and lower herd with 15 bison--not counting the calves from this spring.

Platte River employees in the facility maintenance department are responsible for the care of the herds. Employees working with the bison have livestock backgrounds.

Dito Ananias, facilities maintenance worker at Rawhide who was hired two months ago, said, "I never expected to work with bison. They are very interesting and you need to respect them." Ananias has experience with livestock ranging from cows to horses in Texas and Brazil, his home country.

Platte River Facilities Contracts Coordinator Charles Rogers, who has worked with the Rawhide bison herds for five years, said, "I never worked with bison prior to coming to Platte River. I find them to be very intelligent animals and very interesting."

These environmental ambassadors demonstrate that wildlife can coexist in harmony with responsibly operated power generation facilities. Rawhide employs state-of-the-art environmental control systems.

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