Politics & Government

Why is this Kentucky historic site offering four bison for sale?

Kentucky Department of Parks

For that hard-to-buy-for-person on your gift list, consider giving them something they probably don’t have — four bison.

The Kentucky Department of Parks is accepting bids for four bison in excellent health at Big Bone Lick State Historic Site in Boone County. One is a 4-year-old cow and the three others are bulls, all less than a year old. All will be sold together.

Department spokesman Gil Lawson said Big Bone Lick has a small herd of the creatures and annually has to sell some of them to control the size.

The park likes to keep between 10 to 14, he said, noting that it now has 12 in its 22-acre bison facility, including the four to be sold. It has four or five calves born every spring.

The National Bison Association in Westminster, Colo., said bison, commonly called buffalo, stay in herds and should be sold in groups.

Big Bone Lick is the only state park in Kentucky with bison, Lawson said. The animals recall the park’s prehistoric past and provide a living mammalian link to the Ice Age.

Lawson noted that the Elk & Bison Prairie in the Land Between the Lakes in Western Kentucky has free-roaming elk and bison within its 700-acre enclosure but it is a federal project.

Bison, the largest of all North American land mammals, can be seen at Big Bone Lick every day of the year, said information from the park. Great bison herds once roamed the area and provided food, clothing and shelter for Native Americans and pioneers.

Hunted to near extinction, the last of the wild bison was seen in Kentucky around 1800.

The cost of a bison depends upon its weight and age, said Lawson.

Jim Matheson, assistant director of the National Bison Association, said prices at a sale last November in South Dakota ranged from $1,775 for a bull calf to $4,500 for a mature bull.

The Big Bone Lick animals are considered surplus and are sold through the state Finance Cabinet and the parks department as any other surplus disposal, said Lawson.

Bids are being accepted through Feb. 18. For questions or to make an appointment to see the animals, contact Paul Simpson at 859-384-3522 or email paul.simpson@ky.gov.

Bids should include your name, address and daytime phone number. A $100 deposit is required with all bids — check or money order. The deposit will be returned to all non-winning bidders.

Checks should be made out to Big Bone Lick State Historic Site. Bids should be sent to: Kentucky Department of Parks, Bison Sealed Bid, c/o TJ O’Nan, 2 Hudson Hollow Unit 1, Frankfort, KY, 40601.