KANKAKEE SANDS — The cold December wind whips across the Indiana prairie where several bison are gathered not far from a county road in Newton County.
The bison, commonly called buffalo, are uniquely designed to withstand these freezing temperatures with five times as many hair follicles as a domestic cow.
“Snow can fall on a bison and it doesn’t melt because they are so insulated,” says Ted Anchor, site manager at The Nature Conservancy’s 8,300-acre Kankakee Sands in Northwest Indiana.
The bison’s massive head acts as a plow to push snow out of the way so it can get to the prairie grass that they have been brought to the site to help control.
“We’ve spent the last 20 years building these prairies and now we’ve brought the bison here because we know they were here originally,” Anchor said.