These are the last surviving descendants of the original, genetically distinct Southern bison who were wiped out in the 1870s.
These bison, currently kept down in the canyon country of the Park, will be the forebears of the second herd to be established on the new, landscape-scale Southern Great Plains Conservation & Recreation Area up on top the Llano Estacado shortgrass prairie region, to ensure long-term survival and a protected place for all Southern Plains wildlife in the Texas Panhandle.
Photo credit: Le’Ann Pigg, Assistant Superintendent, Caprock Canyons State Park
Genetically-distinct Texas bison herd inside Caprock Canyons State Park. This photo shows the “down in the canyons” topography and conservation situation of the surviving Southern bison, who are currently confined inside the Park, where they have a relatively small grassland area, with no access to their old Southern High Plains summer range, which is lies behind them up on top the escarpment. Up there, on the escarpment, the Llano Estacado shortgrass plains begin, and stretches west across the Texas Panhandle to New Mexico. That is called the Caprock, and it’s like a large plateau in Africa, where down below there are canyons and breaks and rough country, and a high flat plain on top. It is up there, in the Canadian River country, that we aim to establish the new Southern Great Plains Conservation & Recreation Area in partnership with Texas Parks and Wildlife.
The second photo, though empty of bison, elk, pronghorn, prairie dogs, and other wildlife, shows what that wide-open Llano Estacado shortgrass prairie up n top the Caprock plateau looks like.
Llano Estacado shortgrass prairie, northern Texas Panhandle. Photo: Jarid Manos
A small herd of bison and a small Texas city are helping each other survive
The Texas State Bison Herd at Caprock Canyons State Park by Donald Beard, TPWD Park Superintendent presents to the Fort Worth chapter of Native Prairies Association of Texas. (June 2021)