Where the buffalo roam

AFTON — The Belwin Conservancy prairie in Afton became the temporary summer home for about 30 North American bison from a Wisconsin farm that were released at the site Saturday.

A male bison surveys his new summer home on the Belwin Conservancy prairie in Afton Saturday. The animal was the last of about 30 bison from NorthStar Bison in Rice Lake, Wis., to leave the trailer that brought herd to the site. The buffalo will be rounded up in late fall. (Gazette staff photo by Erik Sandin)

A male bison surveys his new summer home on the Belwin Conservancy prairie in Afton Saturday. The animal was the last of about 30 bison from NorthStar Bison in Rice Lake, Wis., to leave the trailer that brought herd to the site. The buffalo will be rounded up in late fall. (Gazette staff photo by Erik Sandin)

Jaelin Kujawa of Lake Elmo places two buffalo horns on her head Saturday during the annual bison release at the Belwin Conservancy prairie in Afton. Kujawa attended the event with her grandmother, Kim Payne of Woodbury. (Gazette staff photo by Erik Sandin)

Jaelin Kujawa of Lake Elmo places two buffalo horns on her head Saturday during the annual bison release at the Belwin Conservancy prairie in Afton. Kujawa attended the event with her grandmother, Kim Payne of Woodbury. (Gazette staff photo by Erik Sandin)

A large crowd of families gathered at the prairie, a short distance from the Lucy Winton Bell athletic fields in West Lakeland Township, to watch the buffalo herd from NorthStar Bison in Rice Lake, Wis., get introduced to its summer pasture.

Besides watching the bison arrive, visitors could sample bratwurst and hamburgers made from bison meat and learn more about the animal’s role in prairie life. Children could also use a combination of dried buffalo dung, clay and water to make a seed ball courtesy of staff from The Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, Wis.

Bison have been released on the conservancy’s prairie site since 2008 to graze through the summer and fall before the animals are rounded up in late fall.

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