True or False: It’s Illegal to Privately Own Buffalo in Minnesota
In short, it's entirely within the law to privately own buffalo in Minnesota as long as you possess all necessary local permits and follow all local zoning requirements.
There was a time when bison were abundant in Minnesota and the plains of the Midwest. By some estimates, there were as many as 30-60 million bison (bison used synonymously with buffalo, though technically very different than buffalo according to the Minnesota Buffalo Association) roaming North America. By 1900, however, settlement and slaughter had reduced that number to just a few captive herds. Today, there are an estimated 500,000 bison in the country, about 150 of them scattered around Minnesota, most notably found at Blue Mounds State Park in Luverne, Minneopa State Park in Mankato, the Minnesota Zoo and the Zollman Zoo.
But what about privately-owned bison herds, like the one I pass at Minnesota Native Landscapes in Otsego on my way to and from work every day? Are there rules about owning bison in Minnesota?
According to the Minnesota Buffalo Association (MNBA), it is legal to own and raise bison in Minnesota as long as all proper protocols are followed:
Local County or Township Zoning regulations dictate where livestock operations are allowed. Agriculture Zone Districts are areas where raising livestock is allowed. If you are beginning with an existing farming operation, make sure that you would be allowed to continue or be “Grandfathered In” for your intended use. If it is a new operation you will need to acquire the appropriate local permits to begin after meeting all the zoning requirements for the location. Checking with local zoning officials should be your first step.
Few other details regarding the legality or permitting of owning bison are available, though the MNBA does provide plenty of other helpful information on raising bison, proper care, selling of live animals and meat and tourism.