Bear River State Park in Wyoming got a new, cute resident recently when one of its bison gave birth to a calf. While there are a lot of bison in the park, this new arrival is particularly interesting because the calf is white. The park received two white bison heifers in 2021, but this is the first calf born on the grounds.
White bison are extremely rare, with the National Bison Association stating that they're a one in a million occurrence. Due to this rarity, they are actually held sacred by many Native American tribes. However, this calf—which has yet to be named—isn't as rare as you'd think.
In actuality, its white coloration is not due to albinism but is actually the result of mixed heritage. When bison were hunted to near extinction in the late 1800s, cattle inbreeding was used to raise the population levels. According to park superintendent Tyfani Sager, most bison we see today have some cattle genetics mixed in.
This still makes the white calf rare but not genetically unique and not nearly as rare as an albino bison. At the moment, the young calf is thriving and sticking close to its mother. Park officials have yet to determine its sex.
“We’re not sure if it’s a bull calf or a heifer calf,” Sager said. “They’re real furry and it’s hard to tell right off the bat.”
Currently, the 328-acre park is home to 10 bison and five calves. And hopefully, the young calf will have another white calf to play with when the park's second white bison is expected to breed next spring.
Bear River State Park is home to two white bison heifers, one of which gave birth to a rare white calf.
h/t: [CBS News]