DUBOIS – It isn’t everyone who gets to raise once nearly extinct animals in an area where they once roamed freely.
Brian Hineman owner of Nature’s Comeback Bison Ranch is one of those privileged few and he will describe his experience in ‘Buffalo Ranching In Western Pennsylvania,’ as the April 17 speaker for the DuBois Area Historical Society. The program begins at 7:30 p.m. in the E.D. Reitz Museum, 28-34 W. Long Ave., DuBois. It is free and open to the public.
Bison, also known as the American buffalo, once roamed the woods of Pennsylvania, with the last one being killed in 1886 and the rest pushed out as the civilization advanced.
In 1993, following three years of research, Hineman decided to go into bison raising at his ranch outside of Punxsutawney. It is a different style of ranching. The pasture raised bison do not require barns, but are much harder to handle than cattle. At any one time, Hineman generally has 28 of the shaggy animals on his farm.
“I had worked in the cattle industry before and thought I was familiar with what needed to be done,” said Heinman. “But these are rare, still wild animals. I decided to focus on the native American bison and use them the way they were used in the past. All parts of the animal get used in some way when they are sold.”
Hineman has markets for the U.S.D.A. approved meat in DuBois, Pittsburgh, and Ligonier. His bison are raised without use of growth hormones or drugs. No grain is fed to add extra fat. Because of these factors, bison meat is looked at as a healthy eating alternative by many heart surgeons.
“My goal is to improve the animal. At one time there were 60 to 120 million in the United States,” said Hineman. “There were only 1,000 left when efforts were made to bring them back. I would like to see them back in the state they were in before the slaughter began.”