It’s a girl, almost positive.
“They think it’s a female,” said Hays Parks Department Director Jeff Boyle of the parks’ crew that cares for the city’s bison.
On Friday, May 1, just ahead of Mother’s Day May 10, the bison cow “Toots” delivered her calf in the grassy 8-acre pen of Frontier Park West at 12:30 p.m.
Bison calves range in weight at birth from 30 to 70 pounds, said Chris Smith, parks superintendent. Nekko, the herd’s only bull, is the proud dad, Smith said.
Park employees who feed and water the herd have not approached the new mama and her baby though.
“The cow kind of gets riled up,” said Boyle. “We don’t want her getting riled up and stepping on it, so they have not been inside the pens.”
Born on May Day, the calf doesn’t have a name yet. But Melissa Dixon, executive director of the Hays Convention & Visitors Bureau, 2700 Vine, hopes to change that. The CVB on Friday morning is launching a naming contest.
Details will be posted Friday, May 8, to the CVB’s Facebook page.
Entries can be submitted in the comments section until 5 p.m. next Thursday, May 14. All the names will be turned over to the Parks Department, Dixon said.
“I am so excited about this contest,” she said, but CVB won’t choose the winner. “Because they take care of the bison all year round we want the Parks Department to have the final vote.”
The winner will get a Hays prize pack, Dixon said, with Hays t-shirts, drink tumblers and a Hays backpack.
It’s likely all the cows in the herd are pregnant, Boyle said, including the rare white bison. If that’s the case, there are four more babies on the way, he said.
“We typically just leave them alone, they are pretty protective of their calves,” Boyle said of the mothers. “We don’t want them to get upset and hurt one of the calves.”
As in the past, the Parks Department will thin the herd next spring, including the new calf.
“We will keep her until April next year, and then we sell all the calves to the highest bidder,” Boyle said.
The city sends out a request for bids to anyone who has ever contacted the city with an interest in buying bison. The highest bid must take all the calves.
As for the cows, Boyle said the city keeps them until they reach 8-years-old, when they are sold off and replaced with younger ones.
“Once they reach a certain age, they start having trouble calving,” he said.
Will the CVB host a contest to name all the calves as they are born?
“Ummm,” said Dixon with a hearty laugh. “We may let the Parks Department name the rest. We’ll see how it goes.”