Saturday, January 23, 2016

We Do Have An Official Texas State Bison Herd!

Charles Goodnight moved to Texas in 1846, became a cowboy in 1856, and served with the local militia fighting Comanche Raiders. In 1857, he joined the Texas Rangers. In 1870, Goodnight married Mary Ann (Molly) Dyer, a teacher from Weatherford. Charles founded the Panhandle Stockman’s Association, and he and Mary worked hard to preserve their herd of American Bison on their JR Ranch. As a matter of interest, at the age of 91, by then a widower, Charles married Connie Goodnight (no relation); Connie became Connie Goodnight Goodnight. Lonesome Dove movie character Woodrow F. Call was based on Charles Goodnight’s life. According to the March 2011 article in the Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine on the Caprock Canyons State Park bison herd (American Bison), in 1994 the state was considering taking over the last remnants of Charles Goodnight’s wild bison herd. The problem was the JR Ranch did not know where the herd was located. A plane was used to scout for them and spotted them, but the herd thundered off. In 1996, the ranch donated the herd to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Since that time the 79 member herd has been moved to the state park and is undergoing dramatic changes. A breeding project has been undertaken to introduce more genetic diversity to the herd and ensure its survival. The bison now have 700 park acres to roam. As time and money allows, the territory will be expanded to cover more of the Caprock Canyons State Park, a territory that once belonged to the JA Ranch. This may be the last genetically pure bison herd in the U.S. The American Bison is only distantly related to the American Buffalo.

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