Flint Hills Prairie Bison Reserve
Flint Hills Prairie Bison Reserve George W. LeRoux Rt. 1 Box 207A Alta Vista, KS 66834
Contact: George W. LeRoux
Mission Statement: Dedicated to restoring the North American Bison to the sacred status as original provider of the prairie.
Objective: Use education to encourage the conservation of our resources, the preservation of our earth's environments, promote balance with biodiversity, and empower our children to protect their world.
Alta Vista: Here, on a high prairie plateau the native tall grass of the Flint Hills Prairie Bison Reserve blows in the Kansas wind. This is where the North American Bison, called tonka by the Native Americans, thrives as a herd once more.
The bison reserve is a prairie restoration project. We strive to educate the public about environmental conservation and each individual's interaction with the natural world.
Prairie Restoration: We reestablishing the presence of the North American Bison as a keystone species vital to healthy prairie ecology. It is our belief that when we treat the bison with honor and respect, they will provide in abundance all that is needed.
As humble stewards we work with components of the native biome to restore balance to the prairie.
The bison reserve is 230 acres, with five ponds; 160 acres of prairie, and a bison herd sixty strong.
This reserve encompasses booming grounds of the Prairie Chicken and other various native flora and fauna. Our current conservation efforts include the construction of a large flight aviary for raptor rehabilitation, conservation, and education. We are also restoring and adapting a historic stone bran built in the 1890s as our visitor and contact center.
North American Bison: The North American bison has been the provider on the prairie for thousands of years. Bison are an incredibly hearty creature, which have survived many climatic changes on this continent including the Ice Age of the Pleistocene era. Other creatures that helped balance the prairie biome were the Musk Ox, Wooly Mammoth, and Saber-Toothed Tiger.
Although smaller in size than it's recent ice age ancestor a mature bison bull can weigh up to a ton and a half. Females tend to be smaller averaging on thousand to fifteen hundred pounds. Their ability to weather long hard winter on the plains is the result of several successful adaptations. Their ability to grow a thick wooly winter coat, store food in a fat reserve, and to push through snow to forage has insured their survival.
Another adaptation is their ability to produce in abundance. Bison have one calf per year born just after winter in May and early June. Mating season is about six weeks long at the end of the summer.
Although many creatures would eat bison, there were only a few predators that would attempt to hunt bison. Those would be the prairie wolves, the prairie grizzly, prairie cougar, and the Native Americans. The ability of the bison to produce in abundance provided many creatures with a readily available food source.
Their population was estimated at sixty million strong before their decimation in the late 1800s. Such a large population insured that there was large turnover therefore a food base for many other scavenging creatures including badger, boyote, skunk, fox, eagle, vultures, mice, and field rats.
The Native Americans considered Tantonka sacred and treated them with honor and respect. Bison provided all that they needed to survive on the plains. They used every part of the animal to produce hundreds of different items, such as clothing, shelter, as well as tools and weapons.
For the prairie ecosystem to flourish over time there has to be a harmonious balance betwixt the inhabitants and and what the earth would grow. We are striving today to create a perfect harmony with the bison and the prairie. We see this as the only way to insure a future for our children.
Life on an Ark: The earth ship has set sail. There are many challenges to be met in this squared off encapsulated society we live in. Few enough people consider the implications, complications, and exploitations created by their material purchases. They do not notice the woods on the edge of town. They do not see what they destroy or casually throw garbage upon, nor do they see what the earth will share with them.
Here on our earth ship we are striving for balance within this sea of grass ecosystem. We maintain organic standards and allow things to flourish in natural ways. We are implementing efficient, renewable sources of energy. Our orchard produces organic fruits and nuts. Our beehives provide honey production and pollination of our trees and gardens. Our ponds have been stocked and enhanced with native water flora to create wetlands habitat and aquaculture.
Education: We are providing a real life example of balance with the environment. This living example of an earth ship in progress provides the opportunity for children to learn how to protect their future. We provide on-site tours into the bison herd. We offer slide show presentations about bison raptors and prairie ecosystems. We also involve animal ambassadors and bio-facts for closer examination. We offer these service to local school districts as well as youth and other civic organizations by reservation.
You Are What You Eat: We treat our animals with respect. That means they live as natural a life as possible within the limited space we have available. We have a healthy herd dynamic: a social herd which contains many age groups, family trees to insure genetic diversity, and appropriate turn over.
We do not brand, dehorn, castrate, feed lot, hormone implant, or use routine antibiotic treatments. When you eat our bison, you are purchasing a healthy mean product, which supports the rest of the herd and the prairie they live upon. For every Tantonka sacrificed the rest live on to reproduce in abundance. That is the way it has always been and is our vision for the future.
Hours: weekend tours available with advanced reservation