South Dakota bison herds injured after winter wildfires
RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — None of the bison in Custer State Park and Bear Butte State Park were killed outright by winter wildfires, but some may have to be euthanized because of burns or other injuries.
Custer State Park’s Herd Manager Chad Kremer told the Rapid City Journal that no bison herd deaths were reported from the direct flames of the Legion Lake wildfire that burned almost 85 square miles. But he said one cow was euthanized after smoke damage left the animal blind.
“We had quite a few with the smoke and heat affecting their eyes, they weren’t completely blind, couldn’t see definition, just light and dark,” he said.
Kremer said other bison had injuries from their outer, thicker coat being burned off and burns on their backside, underbelly, eyelids, muzzle and lips.
He estimated between five and 10 bison may need to be euthanized because of injuries.
Kremer’s personal herd near the park wasn’t able to escape the flames as easily. He said he has lost seven bison to the blaze and he’ll know within weeks if up to 10 others have to be euthanized because of their injuries.
The Bear Butte State Park herd was spared from a fire last recently.