'Fairly Rare' White Bison Birth at Wyoming State Park Is a 1 in 10 Million Occurrence

Bear River State Park clarified that the baby animal's color is caused by the small amount of cattle genetics found in most bison

<p>Bear River State Park/Facebook</p>

Bear River State Park/Facebook

A rare white bison was born in a Wyoming state park earlier this month.

Bear River State Park announced on its Facebook page that its two-year-old white bison gave birth to a calf that takes after its mother in its coloring.

The park shared a photo of the mother, named Wyoming Hope, and her child looking at the camera from where they are grazing in a field. In the picture, the baby bison appears to have white features on the lower part of its body and legs and lighter brown features on the top half. The mother and her calf almost glow in the sunlight shining on their light-colored fur.

Bear River State Park Superintendent Tyfani Sager told the Cowboy State Daily that the calf is "small" but "doing well," and its sex has yet to be determined. He said it is the first white bison to be born at the 328-acre park, and they are still determining whether it is a "bull calf or a heifer calf."

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"Most of the bison you find anymore have some cattle genetics," Sager said. "They were nearly hunted to extinction by the late 1800s. People got concerned about extinction, and cattle inbreeding was used. A white bison birth is still fairly rare."

Bear River State Park clarified that the cattle's color isn't due to "albinism or leucism" but the caused by the small amount of cattle genetics present in Wyoming Hope and other bison. The park also noted that it wasn't unusual that the calf was born looking like its mother.

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Still, the sight of a white-colored bison is a rare one. The National Bison Association told KUTV that the birth of a white bison is a one-in-10-million occurrence.

However, Sager told Cowboy State Daily that lightning could strike again as they received two white bison in 2021 from Jackson Fork Ranch in Bondurant, and the second white bison mother isn't expected to birth a calf until Spring 2024.

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Partially due to its rarity, the white bison calf is considered "very sacred" to the Sioux, Cherokee, Navaho, Lakota, and Dakota Native American tribes, according to the National Park Service.

"Some American Indians say the birth of a white calf is an omen because the birth takes place in the most unexpected places and often happens among the poorest of people," the NPS said. "The birth is sacred within the American Indian communities because it brings a sense of hope and is a sign that good times are about to happen."

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