University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
College of Biological Sciences
Bison grazing at Cedar Creek, photo by Jake MillerClassic oak savanna, photo by Jake MillerBison at the woodland edge, photo by Chad Zirbel

Bison and Savanna Research

From Forest Isbell (associate director) and Caitlin Potter (education and outreach coordinator)

As many of you may have heard, Cedar Creek began a new project in 2018 which brought bison to our oak savannas as part of our decades-long work on savanna dynamics and restoration. This exciting opportunity is funded by Minnesota’s Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, which helps maintain, restore and enhance Minnesota’s environment and natural resources. Below are some informational resources, updates, and answers to frequently asked questions. If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact Forest Isbell via email ( ).

Click here for our 1-page printable bison factsheet.

Click here to learn more about our savanna research and why bison are an important addition to our long-term restoration work.

Click here to read a science writer's perspective on her visit to the the herd.

UPDATE (4/1/2019):

The bison viewing gazebo is still closed for the season. We anticipate that the herd will be back at Cedar Creek in late May or early June 2019. Join our membership program for a chance to welcome the bison back as part of our annual member's only event! We'll post details about visiting hours, access and programming for the summer here and on our facebook page once the herd's arrival date has been confirmed.
Although it is not yet set in stone, we plan to have the gazebo staffed and open to the public from 10am to 2pm on Saturdays while the herd is onsite. By request from Cedar Creek neighbors, we will also have special First Wednesday hours from 5pm to 9pm each month that the herd is at the reserve. Stay tuned for more details soon!

Frequently Asked Questions

Will the bison be here year-round? The bison are only at Cedar Creek during the growing season, from approximately early June through early September.

Where do the bison come from? The bison herd is being provided by NorthStar Bison, who also provides bison to Belwin Conservancy for prairie restoration.

Will I be able to see the bison or will they be off limits to the public? While the bison are on site, our bison viewing gazebo is staffed on Saturdays from 10am til 2pm, as well as during special events at other times during the summer. Keep an eye on Cedar Creek’s website and facebook page for more details! 

Will I still be able to hike and ski on the Fish Lake Nature Trail? There will be no change in access to the Fish Lake hiking trail, which will remain open year-round and which is outside the bison enclosure. Similarly, there will be no change in access to the ski trails, which will remain open when there is snow on the ground (note that bison will not be present on the property when there is snow). As always, please remember that no dogs are allowed on the trails and that you must stick to the marked trails and roads to avoid damaging research projects.

What should I do if I see an escaped bison? Please call 911 and report your sighting to the dispatcher. This will initiate a phone tree that will alert Cedar Creek staff and project scientists, as well as the team in charge of retrieving the animal and returning it to the enclosure.

How many bison will there be? In summer 2018, there were 32 bison onsite. Numbers are being kept low to ensure that there will be plenty of grazeable land available for each bison.

I'm excited! How can I learn more about bison? We hope you'll attend a public event at Cedar Creek during the summer months, and come see our bison herd and our research project in person! In the meantime, we recommend the National Parks Service series "Bison Bellows". This 52-week set of short articles from 2015 and 2016 covers bison ecology and history, celebrates the heros of bison conservation, and shares information about the 17 bison herds managed by the federal government. Check it out!


I have a question that isn't answered above!

We encourage you to submit your questions at We will respond as we are able and answers will be viewable at