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Bison are getting smaller. It’s another sign of climate change — and poses challenges for herds

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Bison at Wind Cave National Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota were part of a study that documented that bison are getting smaller in response to warming temperatures from climate change. Males and females in the park herd both are more than 20% smaller than 50 years ago — and female lifespans have gotten shorter, according to research by Jeff Martin of the Center of Excellence for Bison Studies at South Dakota State University. RAPID CITY, S.D. — Jeff Martin noticed a striking trend in winners picked in competitions at the annual National Bison Association conventions that has persisted throughout the more than two decades he’s attended.

The winning bison, invariably the largest and most impressive specimens, typically came from the north, while those passed over for recognition usually came from the south.

He observed a similar, although more subtle, contrast in size between the bison he helped raise on his family operation in western Wisconsin and those he encountered working as a ranch hand at a South Dakota bison ranch while in college.

It gradually dawned on Martin that the bison at the 777 Bison Ranch in southwestern South Dakota were visibly smaller than those on his family’s ranch […]

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