OKLAHOMA CITY — “We are thrilled to announce that the bison license plates are officially in production,” said Mike Fuhr, state director for The Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma. “It took longer than we anticipated to get the plates into production and we are grateful to our fellow Oklahomans who pre-ordered for their support and patience. This may be the only time we say this, but we are eager to soon see bison roaming the streets of Oklahoma!”

On Nov. 1, 2016, The Nature Conservancy began accepting pre-orders for a bison-themed special interest plate to benefit their conservation efforts in Oklahoma. Within less than two months, the Conservancy collected the required 500 pre-orders. Pre-orders were accepted until February 1, 2017 with a total of 1,200 collected!

Pre-orders are now being processed by the Oklahoma Tax Commission. Those who pre-ordered can expect to receive their new bison license plate in the mail this summer from the commission.

Anyone else wanting a bison license plate may place an order at tag agencies statewide or by visiting nature.org/okbison to download a form and mail to the Oklahoma Tax Commission. Order fulfillment may take a few months. Plates will be received in the mail from the agency.

“Once people begin receiving their plates, we’d love to see pics,” said Fuhr. “We’ll be showing off bison plate pride via our communications channels, so send them to us!”

Oklahomans may send pics of their bison license plates to okbison@tnc.org or post on the Conservancy’s Facebook page at facebook.com/nature.ok or tag the Conservancy on Twitter @nature_ok.

The initial registration fee for the bison license plate is $38 and annual renewal fee is $36.50. A portion of the initial registration fee and annual renewal fee ($20) will benefit The Nature Conservancy.

Two hooves up for the Oklahoma Conservation Commission who volunteered to be the Conservancy’s state agency host and help funnel the proceeds from plate sales to the Conservancy’s cause. It takes a village!

Nearly 15,000 Oklahomans voted for their favorite of eight bison-themed license plate designs in an online contest in September. With 3,405 votes, the “Pioneers of the Prairie” design by Chris Miller at Cubic Creative in Tulsa was the winning design selected by the public for a new Oklahoma specialty license plate.

“There is a slight change in the plate design. The background is now a solid gradient versus solid lines,” said Fuhr. “This change was made to resolve some contrast issues with the output of the plate printer. It’s a different ballgame than printing on paper. The important element in the design, the bison, remains the same.”

Why bison? Because bison play a crucial role in maintaining grasslands, the Conservancy manages 13 herds throughout North America including a herd of 2,500 at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve near Pawhuska.

“Great herds of bison once roamed the prairies of our nation, including Oklahoma,” said Fuhr. “And during this time of celebrating bison as our national mammal, we felt this would be a great opportunity to generate awareness about the important role bison play in maintaining Oklahoma’s native prairies.”

Visit nature.org/okbison for more information and to download the OTC order form.

— The Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma