It’s baby animal season here at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. The first two bison calves of the season were born a few days ago, a perfectly timed entrance with Mother’s Day just around the corner.
Animal caretakers at the wildlife park near Eatonville expect more calves among herds of American bison, Roosevelt Elk, woodland caribou, and Columbian black-tailed deer in the next few weeks, and one lamb is already getting nurture from its bighorn sheep mother on one of the wildlife park’s hillsides.
Spring and early summer are traditionally a great time to visit the wildlife park, take a narrated tram ride through the 435-acre Free-Roaming Area and keep an eye out for the newborns – and Mother’s Day, May 13, is perfect for spotting animal moms.
Bison calves wobble around a bit at first, but their little legs grow steadier as days go by. And there’s nothing quite like watching a newborn bison calf – its fur a distinctive reddish-orange color – hurrying to keep up with its mama, then ducking its head under her girth to nurse.
Bison once roamed America’s Great Plains by the millions, but they were coveted for their meat and pelts and their numbers dwindled to only about 1,000 scattered across the country by the early 1900s.
Northwest Trek’s bison herd traces its roots to the fall of 1971. At that time, six animals from the National Bison Range in Montana were contributed by federal authorities to the fledgling wildlife park, Northwest Trek co-found David T. “Doc” Hellyer wrote in his memoir, “At the Forest’s Edge.” And by the time the wildlife park opened the gates to visitors on July 17, 1975, the bison herd was well established.
Stay tuned for more baby news this spring!
– Kris Sherman, Northwest Trek