One by one, three trailers pulled into the pasture and opened their doors. From each of them, without hesitation or hiccup, a pair of animals bounded out, stretched their legs and began to prance through the field, their breath foggy in the frigid winter air.

One by one, three trailers pulled into the pasture and opened their doors. From each of them, without hesitation or hiccup, a pair of animals bounded out, stretched their legs and began to prance through the field, their breath foggy in the frigid winter air.

Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park now is home to six female bison, which were brought in Friday morning to aid ongoing prairie restoration at the Galloway nature preserve.

"We think this will bring people to the park," said Larry Peck, the county park system's deputy director. "There's the natural-resource-management component - but also the educational component and the cool component."

On loan from The Wilds, the bison live in a 30-acre paddock enclosed by electrified wire fence. They can be seen from a knoll along the Darby Creek Greenway Trail, about a half-mile north of the Cedar Ridge area.

The arrival of the bison is a happy ending to a project many years in the making.

More than 10 years ago, Metro Parks staff started doing site visits to solicit advice about managing the animals, which can stand six feet at the shoulder and weigh 2,000 pounds. The staff worked to restore a prairie big enough to house the bison and eventually formed the working group that facilitated last week's successful transport.

The herd is likely the first to wander through the park since before the 1870s, when bison were slaughtered in large numbers.

Naturalists will lead a three-mile hike to see them at 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 20.

"Some of them are very much herd animals, but each one responds differently and has a different personality," said Dan Beetem, director of animal management at The Wilds. "We sent a nice group."

In addition to drawing awed onlookers, bison are key to maintaining prairies, which can become tangled and overcrowded without large herbivores. By grazing, agitating and thinning out grasses, they allow the land to breathe and create an ideal habitat for grassland species.

"We've got a lot to learn," said John Watts, resource manager for the Metro Parks. "How do the bison respond to the pastures? How do the pastures respond to them?"

For exclusive photos of the bison, check out the Ohio Adventure Map at columbusalive.com/venture.