When I learned earlier this week that President Obama signed a law Monday making bison the first national mammal, I decided to pay a visit to Riverhead’s own herd at North Quarter Farm on Roanoke Avenue.
There, owner Ed Tuccio drove me around as I stood safely on the bed of his big black pickup to get a better view of these magnificent creatures grazing and lunching on hay in one of the vast pastures of his 250 acres.
Tuccio, owner of Tweed’s Restaurant and Buffalo Bar in downtown Riverhead and Fishel Tuccio Real Estate, has had a fondness for bison for years. He and his wife, Dee Muma, started North Quarter Farm in 1978.
“We bought every farm around because we knew land would be too expensive one day,” he said. “We started with horses, then some cows, corn and added the bison.”
The herd now numbers around 300.
Two calves have been born at the farm this spring — one just this past Tuesday — and he is expecting between 75 and 90 this season. He celebrates this time of year with a calf-naming contest and all you have to do is stop in at the restaurant to fill out an entry form and submit it. If your baby bison name is chosen you will win a $100 Tweed’s gift card.
When asked why it took so long to make the bison a national mammal, Tuccio said, “We killed 60 million in 60 years. We didn’t treat this majestic creature with much respect.”
“I never dreamed bison would have affected my life the way they have,” he added. “The native people believe the bison give their life so you can live your life. I believe it, too.”
See more photos below.
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Your North Fork Sunday Scene features weekly snapshots of life on Long Island’s top fork.
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