Extremely Rare White Bison Calf Hasn't Been Seen Since Early June, Park Says | Big Horn Basin Media

Extremely Rare White Bison Calf Hasn’t Been Seen Since Early June, Park Says

Written by on July 1, 2024

A rare white bison calf that was born on June 4 in Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park, hasn’t been seen since the first week of June, according to park officials.

Captured on camera by visitors and photographers, just moments after it was born, the calf’s photos were shared online, going viral on social media with users gushing about the event and and Native American tribes who view the animal as sacred.

“To date, park staff have been unable to locate the calf,” the National Park Service announced on its website last week. “To our knowledge, there have been no confirmed sightings by park visitors since June 4.”

The calf is leucistic and not albino, according to officials. Leucistic animals like the calf have black eyes and hooves with some pigmentation, the park service stated in their media release.

Calling the calf’s birth a “rare natural phenomenon,” the park service recounted that the last time a similar birth happened in the park was once in the late 19th century. The birth is believed to happen in 1 in 1 million births, and perhaps even less frequently than that.

The birth of the calf in June may be due to a “natural genetic legacy” present in Yellowstone’s bison.

The wild bison population in Yellowstone has slowly been rebuilt, after nearly being exterminated by people hunting and decimating their populations.

The bison population typically ranges from 3,000 to 6,000 animals in two subpopulations. The northern herd breeds can be found in Lamar Valley (where the rare birth happened) and on high plateaus surrounding it, while the central herd breeds in Hayden Valley, the park service said.

Shortly after the white bison calf was born in June in Yellowstone National Park, Native American community members shared their enthusiasm and also welcomed the animal in a ceremony on Wednesday.

Chief Arvol Looking Horse spoke at the ceremony and called the birth “the second coming of the white buffalo calf.”

“We need to protect the white animals,” he said at the event.

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