The native prairie grasslands within the park are home to over 500 species of flora and fauna. The importance of this eco-system cannot be overstated, from species diversity, to soil health, to sequestering carbon, all critical in the world in which we live and share.
photo by: Mike Phlaum
The American Bison are the keystone species of these lands, where once 60 million roamed. The Badlands National Parks herd is part of the restoration efforts to bring back the bison! The bison are critical in the balance of the Badlands ecosystem, nurturing the soil as they graze, promoting a banquet of prairie grasses, forbs & sedges. They are the natural gardeners of the grasslands.
The American Bison evolved on these grasslands to not only survive but thrive. They can withstand temperatures of 40 degrees below zero and tolerate with ease the hot summer sun. Males can weigh 2000 pounds and females 1000 pounds, yet they are very agile, with the ability to jump 6 feet, turn quickly and run up to 35 miles per hour. And… they love to roam.
By adopting a virtual Bison, you are directly aiding in protecting these lands that they need to thrive. We hope you consider helping to restore the great herds of Bison by adopting one today!
photo by: Travis Livieri
In the early 1900s it was estimated that the Black Footed Ferret’s numbers were around 5 million. Their main habitat was prairie dog towns throughout the Great Plains prairies. Today, they are on the endangered species list, with only 340 Black Footed Ferrets in the wild and 301 in captivity.
The key driver in their near eradication was due to habitat loss for agricultural needs and the extermination of prairie dogs through poisoning. 90% of a Black Footed Ferrets diet is prairie dogs. These adorable black bandit creatures are fierce predators to the prairie dog, but are critical in keeping towns balanced and healthy.
Although they are fierce, they are also fragile, weighing in at 1.5 to 2.5 pounds. They are only awake for about 4 hours in the night, when they hunt and care for their young.
Through restoration efforts in 1996 – 1999, 147 Black Footed Ferrets were released in the Conata Basin area of the park. They have had some close encounters since then with the plague, but through the assistance of biology crews, many were captured and vaccinated.
Today the Badlands National Park has roughly 120 Ferrets and they are also the only known wild-breeding population of Ferrets. Although this is good news, this is just the beginning of bringing them back to a truly sustainable population.
By adopting a virtual Black Footed Ferret, you are directly supporting in the efforts of their survival.