American Bison

American Bison

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Encyclopedia
The American bison also commonly known as the American buffalo, is a North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

n species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 of bison
Bison
Members of the genus Bison are large, even-toed ungulates within the subfamily Bovinae. Two extant and four extinct species are recognized...

 that once roamed the grassland
Grassland
Grasslands are areas where the vegetation is dominated by grasses and other herbaceous plants . However, sedge and rush families can also be found. Grasslands occur naturally on all continents except Antarctica...

s of North America in massive herd
Herd
Herd refers to a social grouping of certain animals of the same species, either wild or domestic, and also to the form of collective animal behavior associated with this or as a verb, to herd, to its control by another species such as humans or dogs.The term herd is generally applied to mammals,...

s. Their range once roughly comprised a triangle between the Great Bear Lake
Great Bear Lake
Great Bear Lake is the largest lake entirely within Canada , the third or fourth largest in North America, and the seventh or eighth largest in the world...

 in Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

's far northwest, south to the Mexican
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 states of Durango
Durango
Durango officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Durango is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. The state is located in Northwest Mexico. With a population of 1,632,934, it has Mexico's second-lowest population density, after Baja...

 and Nuevo León
Nuevo León
Nuevo León It is located in Northeastern Mexico. It is bordered by the states of Tamaulipas to the north and east, San Luis Potosí to the south, and Coahuila to the west. To the north, Nuevo León has a 15 kilometer stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border adjacent to the U.S...

, and east along the western boundary of the Appalachian Mountains
Appalachian Mountains
The Appalachian Mountains #Whether the stressed vowel is or ,#Whether the "ch" is pronounced as a fricative or an affricate , and#Whether the final vowel is the monophthong or the diphthong .), often called the Appalachians, are a system of mountains in eastern North America. The Appalachians...

. Because of commercial hunting and slaughter in the 19th century, the bison nearly went extinct and is today restricted to a few national parks and other reserves.

Two subspecies or ecotypes have been described: the plains bison
Plains Bison
The Plains Bison or Common bison is one of two subspecies/ecotypes of the American Bison, the other being the Wood Bison . Furthermore, it has been suggested that the Plains Bison consists of a northern and a southern subspecies, bringing the total to three...

 (Bison bison bison), smaller in size and with a more rounded hump, and the wood bison
Wood Bison
The Wood Bison, Bison bison athabascae, also called Mountain Bison, Wood Buffalo or Mountain Buffalo, is a distinct northern subspecies or ecotype of the American Bison...

 (Bison bison athabascae) – the larger of the two and having a taller, square hump. Furthermore, it has been suggested that the plains bison consists of a northern (Bison bison montanae) and a southern subspecies, bringing the total to three. However, this is generally not supported. The wood bison is one of the largest species of bovid
Bovid
A bovid is any of almost 140 species of cloven-hoofed ruminant mammal at least the males of which bear characteristic unbranching horns covered in a permanent sheath of keratin....

 in the world, surpassed by only the Italian Chianina
Chianina
The Chianina is an Italian breed of cattle, formerly principally a draught breed, now raised mainly for beef. It is the largest and one of the oldest cattle breeds in the world...

, the Asian gaur
Gaur
The gaur , also called Indian bison, is a large bovine native to South Asia and Southeast Asia. The species is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 1986 as the population decline in parts of the species' range is likely to be well over 70% over the last three generations...

 and wild Asian water buffalo
Wild Asian Water Buffalo
The wild water buffalo also called Asian buffalo and Asiatic buffalo is a large bovine native to Southeast Asia...

. It is the largest extant land animal in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

.

Description


A bison has a shaggy, long, dark brown winter coat, and a lighter weight, lighter brown summer coat. As is typical in ungulates, the male bison are slightly larger than the female. Plains bison are often in the smaller range of sizes, and Wood bison in the larger range. Head-and-body length ranges from 2 to 3.5 m (6.6 to 11.5 ft) long, the tail adding 30 to 91 cm (11.8 to 35.8 in). Shoulder height in the species can range from 152 to 186 cm (59.8 to 73.2 in). Typical weigh can range from 318 to 1000 kg (701.1 to 2,204.6 lb). The heaviest wild bull ever recorded weighed 1270 kg (2,799.9 lb). When raised in captivity and farmed for meat, the bison can grow unnaturally heavy and the largest semi-domestic bison weighed 1724 kg (3,800.8 lb). The heads and forequarters are massive, and both sexes have short, curved horns that can grow up to 2 feet (61 cm) long, which they use in fighting for status within the herd and for defense.

Bison are herbivores, grazing on the grass
Grass
Grasses, or more technically graminoids, are monocotyledonous, usually herbaceous plants with narrow leaves growing from the base. They include the "true grasses", of the Poaceae family, as well as the sedges and the rushes . The true grasses include cereals, bamboo and the grasses of lawns ...

es and sedges
Cyperaceae
Cyperaceae are a family of monocotyledonous graminoid flowering plants known as sedges, which superficially resemble grasses or rushes. The family is large, with some 5,500 species described in about 109 genera. These species are widely distributed, with the centers of diversity for the group...

 of the North American prairie
Prairie
Prairies are considered part of the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome by ecologists, based on similar temperate climates, moderate rainfall, and grasses, herbs, and shrubs, rather than trees, as the dominant vegetation type...

s. Their daily schedule involves two-hour periods of grazing, resting and cud chewing, then moving to a new location to graze again. Bison mate in August and September; gestation is 285 days. A single reddish-brown calf nurses until the next calf is born. If the cow is not pregnant, a calf will nurse for 18 months. Bison cows are mature enough to produce a calf at 3 years of age. Bison bulls may try to mate with cows at 3 years of age, but if more mature bulls are present, they may not be able to compete until they reach 5 years of age. Bison have a life expectancy of approximately 15 years in the wild and up to 25 years in captivity.

For the first two months of life, calves are lighter in color than mature bison. One very rare condition is the white buffalo
White buffalo
White buffalo are American bison that are considered to be sacred signs in several Native American religions, and thus have great spiritual importance in those cultures and are visited for prayer and other religious ceremonies...

, in which the calf turns entirely white. White bison are considered sacred by many Native Americans.

Name


Some consider the term "buffalo" somewhat of a misnomer
Misnomer
A misnomer is a term which suggests an interpretation that is known to be untrue. Such incorrect terms sometimes derive their names because of the form, action, or origin of the subject becoming named popularly or widely referenced—long before their true natures were known.- Sources of misnomers...

 for this animal, as it is only distantly related to either of the two "true buffalo," the Asian water buffalo
Water buffalo
The water buffalo is a domesticated bovid widely kept in Asia, Europe and South America.Water buffalo can also refer to:*Wild water buffalo , the wild ancestor of the domestic water buffalo...

 and the African buffalo
African Buffalo
The African buffalo, affalo, nyati, Mbogo or Cape buffalo is a large African bovine. It is not closely related to the slightly larger wild Asian water buffalo, but its ancestry remains unclear...

. However, "bison
Bison
Members of the genus Bison are large, even-toed ungulates within the subfamily Bovinae. Two extant and four extinct species are recognized...

" is a Greek word meaning ox
Ox
An ox , also known as a bullock in Australia, New Zealand and India, is a bovine trained as a draft animal. Oxen are commonly castrated adult male cattle; castration makes the animals more tractable...

-like animal, while "buffalo" originated with the French fur trappers who called these massive beasts , meaning ox or bullock – so both names, "bison" and "buffalo," have a similar meaning. In reference to this animal, the term "buffalo," which dates to 1635, has a much longer history than the term "bison," which was first recorded in 1774. The American bison is more closely related to the wisent
Wisent
The wisent , Bison bonasus, also known as the European bison or European wood bison, is a species of Eurasian bison. It is the heaviest surviving land animal in Europe; a typical wisent is about long, not counting a tail of long, and tall. Weight typically can range from , with an occasional big...

 or European bison. The Lakota
Lakota language
Lakota is a Siouan language spoken by the Lakota people of the Sioux tribes. While generally taught and considered by speakers as a separate language, Lakota is mutually understandable with the other two languages , and is considered by most linguists one of the three major varieties of the Sioux...

 word for the American bison is tatanka.

Differences from European bison


Although they are superficially similar, the American and European bison
Wisent
The wisent , Bison bonasus, also known as the European bison or European wood bison, is a species of Eurasian bison. It is the heaviest surviving land animal in Europe; a typical wisent is about long, not counting a tail of long, and tall. Weight typically can range from , with an occasional big...

 exhibit a number of physical and behavioral differences. The American species has 15 ribs, while the European bison has 14. The American bison has four lumbar vertebrae, while the European has five. Adult American bison are not as rangy in build, and have shorter legs. American bison tend to graze
Grazing
Grazing generally describes a type of feeding, in which a herbivore feeds on plants , and also on other multicellular autotrophs...

 more, and browse
Browsing (predation)
Browsing is a type of herbivory in which an herbivore feeds on leaves, soft shoots, or fruits of high growing, generally woody, plants such as shrubs. This is contrasted with grazing, usually associated with animals feeding on grass or other low vegetation...

 less than their European cousins, due to their necks being set differently. Compared to the nose of the American bison, that of the European species is set farther forward than the forehead when the neck is in a neutral position. The body of the American bison is hairier, though its tail has less hair than that of the European bison. The horns of the European bison point forward through the plane of its face, making it more adept at fighting through the interlocking of horns in the same manner as domestic cattle, unlike the American bison which favors charging. American bison are more easily tamed than their European cousins, and breed more readily with domestic cattle.

Range and population


Despite being the closest relatives of domestic cattle
Cattle
Cattle are the most common type of large domesticated ungulates. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae, are the most widespread species of the genus Bos, and are most commonly classified collectively as Bos primigenius...

 native to North America, bison were never domesticated by native Americans. Later attempts of domestication by Europeans prior to the 20th century met with limited success. Bison were described as having "wild and ungovernable temper"; they can jump 6 feet vertically, and run 35-40 mph (56-64 kph) when agitated. In combination with their weight, that makes bison herds difficult to confine, because they can jump over or crash through almost any fence.

There are approximately 500,000 bison in captive commercial populations (mostly plains bison) on about 4,000 privately owned ranches.

Under the IUCN Red List Guidelines, commercial herds are not eligible for consideration in determining a Red List designation, therefore the total population of bison calculated in conservation herds is approximately 30,000 individuals and the mature population consists of approximately 20,000 individuals. Of the total number presented, only 15,000 total individuals are considered wild bison in the natural range within North America (free-ranging, not confined primarily by fencing).

Bison are now raised for meat and hides. The majority of bison in the world are being raised for human consumption. Bison meat is lower in fat
Fat
Fats consist of a wide group of compounds that are generally soluble in organic solvents and generally insoluble in water. Chemically, fats are triglycerides, triesters of glycerol and any of several fatty acids. Fats may be either solid or liquid at room temperature, depending on their structure...

 and cholesterol
Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a complex isoprenoid. Specifically, it is a waxy steroid of fat that is produced in the liver or intestines. It is used to produce hormones and cell membranes and is transported in the blood plasma of all mammals. It is an essential structural component of mammalian cell membranes...

 than beef, a fact which has led to the development of beefalo
Beefalo
Beefalo are a fertile hybrid offspring of domestic cattle, Bos taurus, and the American bison, Bison bison...

, a fertile crossbreed of bison and domestic cattle. In 2005, about 35,000 bison were processed for meat in the U.S., with the National Bison Association and USDA
United States Department of Agriculture
The United States Department of Agriculture is the United States federal executive department responsible for developing and executing U.S. federal government policy on farming, agriculture, and food...

 providing a "Certified American Buffalo" program with birth-to-consumer tracking of bison via RFID ear tags. There is even a market for kosher
Kashrut
Kashrut is the set of Jewish dietary laws. Food in accord with halakha is termed kosher in English, from the Ashkenazi pronunciation of the Hebrew term kashér , meaning "fit" Kashrut (also kashruth or kashrus) is the set of Jewish dietary laws. Food in accord with halakha (Jewish law) is termed...

 bison meat; these bison are slaughtered at one of the few kosher mammal slaughterhouses in the U.S., and the meat is then distributed nationwide.

Bison are found in both publicly and privately held herds. Custer State Park
Custer State Park
Custer State Park is a state park and wildlife reserve in the Black Hills of southwestern South Dakota, USA. The park is South Dakota's largest and first state park, named after Lt...

 in South Dakota
South Dakota
South Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux American Indian tribes. Once a part of Dakota Territory, South Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889. The state has an area of and an estimated population of just over...

 is home to 1,500 bison, one of the largest publicly held herds in the world, but there are questions about the genetic purity of the animals. Wildlife officials believe that free roaming and genetically pure herds on public lands in North America can be found only in Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park, established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872, is a national park located primarily in the U.S. state of Wyoming, although it also extends into Montana and Idaho...

 and the Yellowstone Park Bison Herd
Yellowstone Park Bison Herd
The Yellowstone Park bison herd in Yellowstone National Park is probably the oldest and largest public bison herd in the United States of America. Yellowstone is known for its geothermal activity and large mammals, especially Elk, Wolves, American Bison, Bears, Pronghorn Antelope, Moose and Bighorn...

, the Henry Mountains Bison Herd
Henry Mountains Bison Herd
The Henry Mountains Bison Herd, numbering 250 to 400 bison, is believed to be one of only four free roaming and genetically pure herds on public lands in North America...

 at the Book Cliffs
Book Cliffs
The Book Cliffs are a series of mountains and cliffs in western Colorado and eastern Utah, in the western United States. They are so named because many of them have the triangular appearance of a book that has been opened up, then turned on its sides and set to rest on the open sides of the book,...

 and Henry Mountains
Henry Mountains
The Henry Mountains are located in the southeastern portion of the U.S. state of Utah and run in a generally north-south direction, extending over a distance of about 30 miles . They were named by John Wesley Powell in honour of Joseph Henry, the first secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. The...

 in Utah
Utah
Utah is a state in the Western United States. It was the 45th state to join the Union, on January 4, 1896. Approximately 80% of Utah's 2,763,885 people live along the Wasatch Front, centering on Salt Lake City. This leaves vast expanses of the state nearly uninhabited, making the population the...

, at Wind Cave National Park
Wind Cave National Park
Wind Cave National Park is a United States national park north of the town of Hot Springs in western South Dakota. Established in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt, it was the seventh U.S. National Park and the first cave to be designated a national park anywhere in the world. The cave is...

 in South Dakota
South Dakota
South Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux American Indian tribes. Once a part of Dakota Territory, South Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889. The state has an area of and an estimated population of just over...

, Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary in the Northwest Territories
Northwest Territories
The Northwest Territories is a federal territory of Canada.Located in northern Canada, the territory borders Canada's two other territories, Yukon to the west and Nunavut to the east, and three provinces: British Columbia to the southwest, and Alberta and Saskatchewan to the south...

, Elk Island National Park
Elk Island National Park
Elk Island National Park , is one of 43 national parks and park reserves administered by the Parks Canada Agency. This “island of conservation” is located 35 km east of Edmonton, Alberta along the Yellowhead Highway, which nearly bisects the park...

 and Wood Buffalo National Park
Wood Buffalo National Park
Wood Buffalo National Park, located in northeastern Alberta and southern Northwest Territories, is the largest national park in Canada at . The park was established in 1922 to protect the world's largest herd of free roaming Wood Bison, currently estimated at more than 5,000...

 in Alberta
Alberta
Alberta is a province of Canada. It had an estimated population of 3.7 million in 2010 making it the most populous of Canada's three prairie provinces...

, and Prince Albert National Park
Prince Albert National Park
Prince Albert National Park covers in central Saskatchewan, Canada and is located north of Saskatoon. Though declared a national park March 24, 1927, it had its official opening ceremonies on August 10, 1928 performed by Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King. The park is open all year but...

 in Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan is a prairie province in Canada, which has an area of . Saskatchewan is bordered on the west by Alberta, on the north by the Northwest Territories, on the east by Manitoba, and on the south by the U.S. states of Montana and North Dakota....

. Another population, the Antelope Island Bison Herd
Antelope Island Bison Herd
Antelope Island in Great Salt Lake, Utah, United States of America is part of Antelope Island State Park. On the island, a semi-free ranging population of "Buffaloes" or American Bison have been in existence since 1893. Though the island was named for the Pronghorn Antelope that John C...

 on Antelope Island
Antelope Island
Antelope Island, with an area of , is the largest island of 10 islands located within the Great Salt Lake, Utah, United States. The island lies in the southeastern portion of the lake, near Salt Lake City and Davis County, and becomes a peninsula when the lake is at extremely low levels. Antelope...

 in Utah
Utah
Utah is a state in the Western United States. It was the 45th state to join the Union, on January 4, 1896. Approximately 80% of Utah's 2,763,885 people live along the Wasatch Front, centering on Salt Lake City. This leaves vast expanses of the state nearly uninhabited, making the population the...

, consisting of 550 to 700 bison, is also one of the largest and oldest public herds in the United States, but the bison in that herd are considered to be only semi-free roaming, since they are confined to the Antelope Island
Antelope Island
Antelope Island, with an area of , is the largest island of 10 islands located within the Great Salt Lake, Utah, United States. The island lies in the southeastern portion of the lake, near Salt Lake City and Davis County, and becomes a peninsula when the lake is at extremely low levels. Antelope...

. In addition, recent genetic studies indicate that, like most bison herds, the Antelope Island Bison Herd
Antelope Island Bison Herd
Antelope Island in Great Salt Lake, Utah, United States of America is part of Antelope Island State Park. On the island, a semi-free ranging population of "Buffaloes" or American Bison have been in existence since 1893. Though the island was named for the Pronghorn Antelope that John C...

 has a small number of hybrid genes from Domestic Cattle. In 2002 the United States government donated some buffalo calves from South Dakota and Colorado to the Mexican government. Their descendants live in the Mexican nature reserves El Uno Ranch at Janos and Santa Helena Canyon, Chihuahua, and Boquillas del Carmen, Coahuila
Coahuila
Coahuila, formally Coahuila de Zaragoza , officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Coahuila de Zaragoza is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico...

, located near the southern banks of the Rio Grande and the grassland borderline with Texas and New Mexico.

Recent genetic studies of privately owned herds of bison show that many of them include animals with genes from domestic cattle. For example, the herd on Santa Catalina Island
Santa Catalina Island, California
Santa Catalina Island, often called Catalina Island, or just Catalina, is a rocky island off the coast of the U.S. state of California. The island is long and across at its greatest width. The island is located about south-southwest of Los Angeles, California. The highest point on the island is...

, isolated since 1924, after being brought there for a movie shoot, were found to be mostly crossbreeds. It is estimated that there are as few as 12,000 to 15,000 pure bison in the world. The numbers are uncertain because the tests used to date – mitochondrial DNA
Mitochondrial DNA
Mitochondrial DNA is the DNA located in organelles called mitochondria, structures within eukaryotic cells that convert the chemical energy from food into a form that cells can use, adenosine triphosphate...

 analysis – indicate only if the maternal line (back from mother to mother... ) ever included domesticated bovines and thus say nothing about possible male input in the process. It was found that most hybrids look exactly like purebred bison; therefore, appearance is not a good indicator of genetics.

A proposal known as Buffalo Commons
Buffalo Commons
The Buffalo Commons is a conceptual proposal to create a vast nature preserve by returning of the drier portion of the Great Plains to native prairie, and by reintroducing the buffalo, or American Bison, that once grazed the shortgrass prairie...

 has been suggested by a handful of academics and policymakers to restore large parts of the drier portion of the Great Plains to native prairie
Prairie
Prairies are considered part of the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome by ecologists, based on similar temperate climates, moderate rainfall, and grasses, herbs, and shrubs, rather than trees, as the dominant vegetation type...

 grazed by bison. Proponents argue that current agricultural use of the shortgrass prairie
Shortgrass prairie
The shortgrass prairie ecosystem of the North American Great Plains is a prairie that includes lands from the eastern foothills of the Rocky Mountains east to Nebraska and Saskatchewan, including rangelands in Alberta, Wyoming, Montana, North, South Dakota, and Kansas, and extending to the south...

 is not sustainable
Sustainability
Sustainability is the capacity to endure. For humans, sustainability is the long-term maintenance of well being, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions, and encompasses the concept of union, an interdependent relationship and mutual responsible position with all living and non...

, pointing to periodic disasters, including the Dust Bowl
Dust Bowl
The Dust Bowl, or the Dirty Thirties, was a period of severe dust storms causing major ecological and agricultural damage to American and Canadian prairie lands from 1930 to 1936...

, and continuing significant human population loss over the last 60 years. However, this plan is opposed by some who live in the areas in question.

Behavior and ecology



Bison are migratory and herd migrations can be directional as well as altitudinal in some areas. Bison have usual daily movements between foraging sites during the summer. In a montane valley, bison have been recorded traveling, on average, 3.2 km a day. The summer ranges of bison appear to be influenced by seasonal vegetation changes, interspersion and size of foraging sites, the rut and the number of biting insects. The size of preserve and availability of water may also be a factor. Bison are largely grazers, eating primarily grasses and sedges. On shortgrass pasture, bison predominately consume warm season grasses. On mixed prairie, it appears that cool season grasses, including some sedges, compose 79-96% of their diet. In montane and northern areas, sedges are selected throughout the year. Bison also drink water daily or even snow.

Horning


Bison mate in late spring and summer in more open plain areas. During fall and winter, bison tend to gather in more wooded areas. During this time, bison partake in horning behaviors. They will rub their horns against trees, young saplings and even telephone poles. Aromatic trees like cedars and pine seem to be preferred. Horning appears to be associated with insect defense as it occurs most often in the fall when the insect population is at its highest. Cedar and pines emit an aroma after bison horn them and this seems to be used as a deterrent for insects.

Social behavior and reproduction



Female bison live in maternal herds which include other females and their offspring. Male offspring leave their maternal herd when around three years old and will either live alone or join other males in bachelor herds. Male and female herds usually do not mingle until the breeding season. However female herds may also contain a few older males. During the breeding season, dominant bulls maintain a small harem of females for mating. Individual bulls "tend" cows until allowed to mate, by following them around and chasing away rival males. The tending bull will shield the female's vision with his body so she will not see any other challenging males. A challenging bull may bellow or roar to get a female's attention and the tending bull has to bellow/roar back. The most dominant bulls mate in the first 2–3 weeks of the season. More subordinate bulls will mate with any remaining estrous
Estrous cycle
The estrous cycle comprises the recurring physiologic changes that are induced by reproductive hormones in most mammalian placental females. Estrous cycles start after puberty in sexually mature females and are interrupted by anestrous phases or pregnancies...

 cow that has not mated yet. Male bison play no part in raising the young.

Bison herds have dominance hierarchies that exist for both males and females. A bison's dominance is related to its birth date. Bison born earlier in the breeding season are more likely to be larger and more dominant as adults. Thus bison are able to pass on their dominance to their offspring as dominant bison breed earlier in the season. In addition to dominance, the older bison of a generation also have a higher fertility rate than the younger ones. Cows nurse their calves for at least 7 or 8 months but most calves seem to be weaned before the end of their first year.

Bison have been observed to display homosexual behaviors, males much more so than females. In the case of males, it is unlikely to be related to dominance but rather to social bonding or gaining sexual experience.

Wallowing behavior



A bison wallow
Buffalo wallow
A buffalo wallow or bison wallow is a natural topographical depression in the flat prairie land that holds rain water and runoff.Originally this would have served as a temporary watering hole for wildlife, including the North American buffalo...

 is a shallow depression in the soil, which is used either wet or dry. Bison roll in these depressions, covering themselves with dust or mud. Past explanations and current hypotheses suggested for wallowing behavior include grooming behavior associated with shedding, male-male interaction (typically rutting behavior), social behavior for group cohesion, play behavior, relief from skin irritation due to biting insects; reduction of ectoparasite (tick and lice) load; and thermoregulation.

Predation


In some areas, wolves
Gray Wolf
The gray wolf , also known as the wolf, is the largest extant wild member of the Canidae family...

 are a major predator of bison. Wolf predation typically peaks in late spring and early summer, with attacks usually being concentrated on cows and calves. Observations have shown that wolves actively target herds with calves over ones with none. The length of a predation episode varies, ranging from a few minutes to over nine hours. Bison display five apparent defense strategies in protecting calves from wolves: running to a cow, running to a herd, running to the nearest bull, running in the front or center of a stampeding herd, and entering water bodies such as lakes or rivers. When fleeing wolves in open areas, cows with young calves take the lead, while bulls take to the rear of the herds, to guard the cows' escape. Bison typically ignore wolves not displaying hunting behavior. Wolf packs specializing in bison tend to have a greater number of males, as their superior size compared to the females allows them to wrestle their prey to the ground more effectively. The grizzly bear
Grizzly Bear
The grizzly bear , also known as the silvertip bear, the grizzly, or the North American brown bear, is a subspecies of brown bear that generally lives in the uplands of western North America...

 can also pose a threat to calves and sometimes adult bison.

Native hunting



The American bison is a relative newcomer to North America, having originated in Eurasia and migrated over the Bering Strait
Bering Strait
The Bering Strait , known to natives as Imakpik, is a sea strait between Cape Dezhnev, Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Russia, the easternmost point of the Asian continent and Cape Prince of Wales, Alaska, USA, the westernmost point of the North American continent, with latitude of about 65°40'N,...

. About 10,000 years ago it replaced the steppe bison (Bison priscus
Steppe Wisent
The Steppe Bison or steppe wisent was a bison found on steppes throughout Europe, Central Asia, Beringia, and North America during the Quaternary...

), a previous immigrant that was much larger. It is thought that the long-horned bison became extinct due to a changing ecosystem and hunting pressure following the development of the Clovis point
Clovis point
Clovis points are the characteristically-fluted projectile points associated with the North American Clovis culture. They date to the Paleoindian period around 13,500 years ago. Clovis fluted points are named after the city of Clovis, New Mexico, where examples were first found in 1929.At the right...

 and related technology, and improved hunting skills. During this same period, other megafauna
Megafauna
In terrestrial zoology, megafauna are "giant", "very large" or "large" animals. The most common thresholds used are or...

 vanished and were replaced to some degree by immigrant Eurasian animals that were better adapted to predatory humans. The American bison, technically a dwarf form, was one of these animals.

Bison were a keystone species
Keystone species
A keystone species is a species that has a disproportionately large effect on its environment relative to its abundance. Such species play a critical role in maintaining the structure of an ecological community, affecting many other organisms in an ecosystem and helping to determine the types and...

, whose grazing pressure was a force that shaped the ecology of the Great Plains
Great Plains
The Great Plains are a broad expanse of flat land, much of it covered in prairie, steppe and grassland, which lies west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada. This area covers parts of the U.S...

 as strongly as periodic prairie fires
Wildfire
A wildfire is any uncontrolled fire in combustible vegetation that occurs in the countryside or a wilderness area. Other names such as brush fire, bushfire, forest fire, desert fire, grass fire, hill fire, squirrel fire, vegetation fire, veldfire, and wilkjjofire may be used to describe the same...

 and which were central to the lifestyle of Native Americans of the Great Plains
Plains Indians
The Plains Indians are the Indigenous peoples who live on the plains and rolling hills of the Great Plains of North America. Their colorful equestrian culture and resistance to White domination have made the Plains Indians an archetype in literature and art for American Indians everywhere.Plains...

. However, there is now some controversy over their interaction. "Hernando De Soto's expedition staggered through the Southeast for four years in the early 16th century and saw hordes of people but apparently did not see a single bison," Charles C. Mann wrote in 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus
1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus
1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus is a 2005 non-fiction book by American author and science writer Charles C. Mann about the pre-Columbian Americas...

. Mann discussed the evidence that Native Americans not only created (by selective use of fire) the large grasslands that provided the bison's ideal habitat but also kept the bison population regulated. In this theory, it was only when the original human population was devastated by wave after wave of epidemic (from diseases of Europeans) after the 16th century that the bison herds propagated wildly. In such a view, the seas of bison herds that stretched to the horizon were a symptom of an ecology out of balance, only rendered possible by decades of heavier-than-average rainfall. Other evidence of the arrival circa 1550–1600 CE in the savannas of the eastern seaboard
Eastern savannas of the United States
The eastern savannas of the United States covered large portions of the east side of the continent until the early 20th century. These were in a fire ecology of open grassland and forests with low ground cover of herbs and grasses....

 includes the lack of places which southeast natives named after buffalo. Bison were the most numerous single species of large wild mammal on Earth.

What is not disputed is that before the introduction of horses, bison were herded into large chutes made of rocks and willow branches and then stampeded over cliffs. These buffalo jump
Buffalo jump
A buffalo jump is a cliff formation which North American Indians historically used in mass killings of plains bison. Hunters herded the bison and drove them over the cliff, breaking their legs and rendering them immobile. Tribe members waiting below closed in with spears and bows to finish the kills...

s are found in several places in the U.S. and Canada, such as Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is a buffalo jump located where the foothills of the Rocky Mountains begin to rise from the prairie 18 km northwest of Fort Macleod, Alberta, Canada on highway 785...

. Large groups of people would herd the bison for several miles, forcing them into a stampede
Stampede
A stampede is an act of mass impulse among herd animals or a crowd of people in which the herd collectively begins running with no clear direction or purpose....

 that would ultimately drive many animals over a cliff. The large quantities of meat obtained in this way provided the hunters with surplus, which was used in trade.
A similar method of hunting was to drive the bison into natural corrals, such as the Ruby site
Ruby site
The Ruby site is a Native American site located in Wyoming. It is located on a dry tributary of the Powder River. The Ruby site is a corral that was used to herd bison. The bison were forced to stampede by the hunters and then ran into the enclosure which was in a low lying area...

.

To get the optimum use out of the bison, the Native Americans had a specific method of butchery, first identified at the Olsen-Chubbock archaeological site in Colorado
Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

. The method involves skinning down the back to get at the tender meat just beneath the surface, the area known as the "hatched area." After the removal of the hatched area, the front legs are cut off as well as the shoulder blades. Doing so exposes the hump meat (in the wood bison), as well as the meat of the ribs and the bison's inner organs. After everything was exposed, the spine was then severed and the pelvis and hind legs removed. Finally, the neck and head were removed as one. This allowed for the tough meat to be dried and made into pemmican
Pemmican
Pemmican is a concentrated mixture of fat and protein used as a nutritious food. The word comes from the Cree word pimîhkân, which itself is derived from the word pimî, "fat, grease". It was invented by the native peoples of North America...

.

Later, when Plains Indians obtained horses, it was found that a good horseman could easily lance or shoot enough bison to keep his tribe and family fed, as long as a herd was nearby. The bison provided meat, leather, sinew for bows, grease, dried dung for fires, and even the hooves could be boiled for glue. When times were bad, bison were consumed down to the last bit of marrow
Bone marrow
Bone marrow is the flexible tissue found in the interior of bones. In humans, bone marrow in large bones produces new blood cells. On average, bone marrow constitutes 4% of the total body mass of humans; in adults weighing 65 kg , bone marrow accounts for approximately 2.6 kg...

.

19th century bison hunts


Bison were hunted almost to extinction
Extinction
In biology and ecology, extinction is the end of an organism or of a group of organisms , normally a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the last individual of the species, although the capacity to breed and recover may have been lost before this point...

 in the late 19th century primarily by market hunters
Market hunters
Market hunters were commercial hunters, who exploited animals as a natural resource, for both money and economic development. They were primarily made up of white or sometimes the Metis or other half breed hunters who organized themselves into factory type groups of...

 and were reduced to a few hundred by the mid-1880s. They were hunted for their skins, with the rest of the animal left behind to decay on the ground. After the animals rotted, their bones were collected and shipped back east in large quantities.

The US Army sanctioned and actively endorsed the wholesale slaughter of bison herds. The US federal government promoted bison hunting for various reasons, to allow ranchers to range their cattle without competition from other bovines, and primarily to weaken the North American Indian population by removing their main food source and to pressure them onto the reservations. Without the bison, native people of the plains were forced either to leave the land or starve to death.

According to historian Pekka Hämäläinen, Native Americans also contributed to the collapse of the bison. By the 1830s the Comanche
Comanche
The Comanche are a Native American ethnic group whose historic range consisted of present-day eastern New Mexico, southern Colorado, northeastern Arizona, southern Kansas, all of Oklahoma, and most of northwest Texas. Historically, the Comanches were hunter-gatherers, with a typical Plains Indian...

 and their allies on the southern plains were killing about 280,000 bison a year, which was near the limit of sustainability for that region. Firearms and horses, along with a growing export market for buffalo robes and bison meat had resulted in larger and larger numbers of bison killed each year by the white and mixed Native market hunters. A long and intense drought hit the southern plains in 1845, lasting into the 1860s, which caused a widespread collapse of the bison herds. In the 1860s, the rains returned and the bison herds recovered to a degree.

The railroad industry also wanted bison herds culled or eliminated. Herds of bison on tracks could damage locomotives when the trains failed to stop in time. Herds often took shelter in the artificial cuts formed by the grade of the track winding through hills and mountains in harsh winter conditions. As a result, bison herds could delay a train for days.

The main or primary reason for the bison's near-demise, much like the actual demise of the passenger pigeon
Passenger Pigeon
The Passenger Pigeon or Wild Pigeon was a bird, now extinct, that existed in North America and lived in enormous migratory flocks until the early 20th century...

, was commercial market hunting.

Bison skins were used for clothing such as robes, rugs and, most importantly, for industrial machine belts. Prior to electrification
Electrification
Electrification originally referred to the build out of the electrical generating and distribution systems which occurred in the United States, England and other countries from the mid 1880's until around 1940 and is in progress in developing countries. This also included the change over from line...

 factories were usually powered by a centrally located steam engine
Steam engine
A steam engine is a heat engine that performs mechanical work using steam as its working fluid.Steam engines are external combustion engines, where the working fluid is separate from the combustion products. Non-combustion heat sources such as solar power, nuclear power or geothermal energy may be...

, with the power carried throughout the factory using an arrangement known as line shaft
Line shaft
A line shaft is a power transmission system used extensively during the Industrial Revolution. Prior to the widespread use of electric motors small enough to be connected directly to each piece of machinery, line shafting was used to distribute power from a large central power source to machinery...

 transmission. Power from the engine was transferred to rods suspended below the ceiling on each floor of the factory, where it was in turn transferred to individual machines on the floor via a leather belt running on two pulley
Pulley
A pulley, also called a sheave or a drum, is a mechanism composed of a wheel on an axle or shaft that may have a groove between two flanges around its circumference. A rope, cable, belt, or chain usually runs over the wheel and inside the groove, if present...

s, one on the rod and the other on the machine. Buffalo leather was the material of choice for this application because of its strength and wear resistance.

There was a huge export trade to Europe of bison hides. Old West bison hunting was very often a big commercial enterprise, involving organized teams of one or two professional market hunters, backed by a team of skinners, gun cleaners, cartridge
Cartridge (firearms)
A cartridge, also called a round, packages the bullet, gunpowder and primer into a single metallic case precisely made to fit the firing chamber of a firearm. The primer is a small charge of impact-sensitive chemical that may be located at the center of the case head or at its rim . Electrically...

 reloaders, cooks, wranglers, blacksmiths, security guards, teamsters, and numerous horses and wagons. Men were even employed to recover and recast lead bullets taken from the carcasses. Many of these professional market hunters, such as Buffalo Bill Cody
Buffalo Bill
William Frederick "Buffalo Bill" Cody was a United States soldier, bison hunter and showman. He was born in the Iowa Territory , in LeClaire but lived several years in Canada before his family moved to the Kansas Territory. Buffalo Bill received the Medal of Honor in 1872 for service to the US...

, killed over a hundred animals at a single stand and many thousands in their career. One professional market hunter killed over 20,000 buffalo by his own count. A good hide could bring $3 in Dodge City
Dodge City, Kansas
Dodge City is a city in, and the county seat of, Ford County, Kansas, United States. Named after nearby Fort Dodge, the city is famous in American culture for its history as a wild frontier town of the Old West. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 27,340.-History:The first settlement of...

, Kansas, and a very good one (the heavy winter coat) could sell for $50 in an era when a laborer would be lucky to make a dollar a day.

The market hunter would customarily locate the herd in the early morning, and station himself about 100 metres (109 yd) from it, shooting the animals broadside through the lungs. Head shots were not preferred as the soft lead bullets would often flatten and fail to penetrate the skull, especially if mud was matted on the head of the animal. The bison would drop until either the herd sensed danger and stampeded or perhaps a wounded animal attacked another, causing the herd to disperse. If done properly, a large number of bison would be felled at one time. Following up were the skinners, who would drive a spike through the nose of each dead animal with a sledgehammer
Sledgehammer
A sledgehammer is a tool consisting of a large, flat head attached to a lever . The head is typically made of metal. The sledgehammer can apply more impulse than other hammers, due to its large size. Along with the mallet, it shares the ability to distribute force over a wide area...

, hook up a horse team, and pull the hide from the carcass. The hides were dressed, prepared, and stacked on the wagons by other members of the organization.

For a decade from 1873 on, there were several hundred, perhaps over a thousand, such commercial hide/market hunting outfits harvesting bison at any one time, vastly exceeding the take by American Indians or individual meat hunters. The commercial take arguably was anywhere from 2,000 to 100,000 animals per day depending on the season, though there are no statistics available. It was said that the Big .50s
.50-90 Sharps
The .50-90 Sharps rifle cartridge is a black powder cartridge that was introduced by Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company in 1872 as a buffalo hunting round...

 were fired so much that the market hunters needed at least two rifles to let the barrels cool off; The Fireside Book of Guns reports they were sometimes quenched in the winter snow. Dodge City saw railroad cars sent East filled with stacked hides.

The building of the railroads through Colorado and Kansas split the bison herd in two parts, the southern herd and the northern herd. The last refuge of the southern herd was in the Texas Panhandle.

As the great herds began to wane, proposals to protect the bison were discussed. Cody, among others, spoke in favor of protecting the bison because he saw that the pressure on the species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 was too great. Yet these proposals were discouraged since it was recognized that the Plains Indians, often at war with the United States, depended on bison for their way of life. In 1874, President Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States as well as military commander during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. Under Grant's command, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and ended the Confederate States of America...

 "pocket veto
Pocket veto
A pocket veto is a legislative maneuver in United States federal lawmaking that allows the President to veto a bill indirectly.The U.S. Constitution limits the President's period for decision on whether to sign or veto any legislation to ten days while the United States Congress is in session...

ed" a Federal bill to protect the dwindling bison herds, and in 1875, General Philip Sheridan
Philip Sheridan
Philip Henry Sheridan was a career United States Army officer and a Union general in the American Civil War. His career was noted for his rapid rise to major general and his close association with Lt. Gen. Ulysses S...

 pleaded to a joint session of Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 to slaughter the herds, to deprive the Indians of their source of food. By 1884, the American bison was close to extinction.

Resurgence



The famous herd of James "Scotty" Philip in South Dakota was one of the earliest reintroductions of bison to North America. In 1899, Phillip purchased a small herd (five of them, including the female) from Dug Carlin, Pete Dupree's brother-in-law, whose son Fred had roped five calves in the Last Big Buffalo Hunt on the Grand River
Grand River (South Dakota)
The Grand River is a tributary of the Missouri River in North Dakota and South Dakota in the United States. The length of the combined branch is 110 mi...

 in 1881 and taken them back home to the ranch on the Cheyenne River
Cheyenne River
The Cheyenne River is a tributary of the Missouri River in the U.S. states of Wyoming and South Dakota. It is approximately 295 mi long and drains an area of...

. Scotty's goal was to preserve the animal from extinction. At the time of his death in 1911 at 53, Philip had grown the herd to an estimated 1,000 to 1,200 head of bison. A variety of privately owned herds had also been established, starting from this population.

Simultaneously, two Montana ranchers, Michel Pablo and Charles Allard, spent more than 20 years assembling one of the largest collections of purebred bison on the continent (by the time of Allard's death in 1896, the herd numbered 300). In 1907, after U.S. authorities declined to buy the herd, Pablo struck a deal with the Canadian government and shipped most of his bison northward to the newly created Elk Island National Park
Elk Island National Park
Elk Island National Park , is one of 43 national parks and park reserves administered by the Parks Canada Agency. This “island of conservation” is located 35 km east of Edmonton, Alberta along the Yellowhead Highway, which nearly bisects the park...

. Also, in 1907, the New York Zoological Park sent 15 bison to Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

 forming the nucleus of a herd that now numbers 650.

The Antelope Island Bison Herd
Antelope Island Bison Herd
Antelope Island in Great Salt Lake, Utah, United States of America is part of Antelope Island State Park. On the island, a semi-free ranging population of "Buffaloes" or American Bison have been in existence since 1893. Though the island was named for the Pronghorn Antelope that John C...

, an isolated bison herd on Utah's Antelope Island
Antelope Island
Antelope Island, with an area of , is the largest island of 10 islands located within the Great Salt Lake, Utah, United States. The island lies in the southeastern portion of the lake, near Salt Lake City and Davis County, and becomes a peninsula when the lake is at extremely low levels. Antelope...

 has also been used to improve the genetic diversity of American bison. The current American bison population has been growing rapidly, and is estimated at 350,000 compared to an estimated 60 to 100 million in the mid-19th century. Most current herds, however are genetically polluted
Genetic pollution
Genetic pollution is a controversial term for uncontrolled gene flow into wild populations. This gene flow is undesirable according to some environmentalists and conservationists, including groups such as Greenpeace, TRAFFIC, and GeneWatch UK.-Usage:...

 or partly crossbred with cattle. Today there are only four genetically unmixed, free roaming, public bison herds and only one that is also free of brucellosis
Brucellosis
Brucellosis, also called Bang's disease, Crimean fever, Gibraltar fever, Malta fever, Maltese fever, Mediterranean fever, rock fever, or undulant fever, is a highly contagious zoonosis caused by ingestion of unsterilized milk or meat from infected animals or close contact with their secretions...

: it roams Wind Cave National Park
Wind Cave National Park
Wind Cave National Park is a United States national park north of the town of Hot Springs in western South Dakota. Established in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt, it was the seventh U.S. National Park and the first cave to be designated a national park anywhere in the world. The cave is...

. A founder population of 16 animals from the Wind Cave Bison Herd
Wind Cave Bison Herd
The Wind Cave bison herd is a herd of 250–400 American Bison in Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota, USA. It is believed to be one of only four free roaming and genetically pure herds on public lands in North America. The other three herds are the Yellowstone Park bison herd, the Henry Mountains...

 was re-established in Montana
Montana
Montana is a state in the Western United States. The western third of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges. Smaller, "island ranges" are found in the central third of the state, for a total of 77 named ranges of the Rocky Mountains. This geographical fact is reflected in the state's name,...

 in 2005 by the American Prairie Foundation
American Prairie Foundation
The American Prairie Foundation is a public charity located in the U.S. state of Montana. The foundation's objective is to build one of the largest wildlife reserves in the continental United States through a combination of new land acquisition and public land integration into the project, to be...

. The herd now numbers near 100 and roams a 14000 acres (56.7 km²) grassland expanse on American Prairie Reserve
American Prairie Reserve
The American Prairie Reserve is a private project undertaken by the American Prairie Foundation to create a wildlife conservation area of in northeast Montana through a combination of private and public lands. National Geographic has compared the project to the creation of an American...

.

Many other bison herds are in the process of being created or have been created in State Parks and National Parks, and on private ranches, with individuals taken from the existing main 'Foundation Herds'. An example is the Henry Mountains Bison Herd
Henry Mountains Bison Herd
The Henry Mountains Bison Herd, numbering 250 to 400 bison, is believed to be one of only four free roaming and genetically pure herds on public lands in North America...

 in Central Utah
Utah
Utah is a state in the Western United States. It was the 45th state to join the Union, on January 4, 1896. Approximately 80% of Utah's 2,763,885 people live along the Wasatch Front, centering on Salt Lake City. This leaves vast expanses of the state nearly uninhabited, making the population the...

 which was founded in 1941 with bison that were relocated from Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park, established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872, is a national park located primarily in the U.S. state of Wyoming, although it also extends into Montana and Idaho...

. This herd now numbers approximately 400 individuals and in the last decade steps have been taken to expand this herd to the mountains of the Book Cliffs
Book Cliffs
The Book Cliffs are a series of mountains and cliffs in western Colorado and eastern Utah, in the western United States. They are so named because many of them have the triangular appearance of a book that has been opened up, then turned on its sides and set to rest on the open sides of the book,...

, also in Utah
Utah
Utah is a state in the Western United States. It was the 45th state to join the Union, on January 4, 1896. Approximately 80% of Utah's 2,763,885 people live along the Wasatch Front, centering on Salt Lake City. This leaves vast expanses of the state nearly uninhabited, making the population the...

.

One of the largest privately owned herds, numbering 2,500, in the US is on the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve
Tallgrass Prairie Preserve
The Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, located in Osage County, Oklahoma near Foraker, Oklahoma, is owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy. It is protected as the largest tract of remaining tallgrass prairie in the world...

 in Oklahoma which is owned by the Nature Conservancy. Ted Turner
Ted Turner
Robert Edward "Ted" Turner III is an American media mogul and philanthropist. As a businessman, he is known as founder of the cable news network CNN, the first dedicated 24-hour cable news channel. In addition, he founded WTBS, which pioneered the superstation concept in cable television...

 is the largest private owner of bison with about 50,000 on several different ranches.

The only continuously wild bison herd in the United States resides within Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park, established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872, is a national park located primarily in the U.S. state of Wyoming, although it also extends into Montana and Idaho...

. Numbering between 3,000 and 3,500, the Yellowstone Park Bison Herd
Yellowstone Park Bison Herd
The Yellowstone Park bison herd in Yellowstone National Park is probably the oldest and largest public bison herd in the United States of America. Yellowstone is known for its geothermal activity and large mammals, especially Elk, Wolves, American Bison, Bears, Pronghorn Antelope, Moose and Bighorn...

 is descended from a remnant population of 23 individual 'mountain' bison that survived the mass slaughter of the 19th century by hiding out in the Pelican Valley of Yellowstone Park. In 1902, a captive herd of 21 plains bison was introduced to the Lamar Valley and managed as livestock until the 1960s, when a policy of natural regulation was adopted by the park.

The end of the ranching era and the onset of the natural regulation era set into motion a chain of events that have led to the bison of the Yellowstone Park Bison Herd
Yellowstone Park Bison Herd
The Yellowstone Park bison herd in Yellowstone National Park is probably the oldest and largest public bison herd in the United States of America. Yellowstone is known for its geothermal activity and large mammals, especially Elk, Wolves, American Bison, Bears, Pronghorn Antelope, Moose and Bighorn...

 migrating to lower elevations outside the park in search of winter forage. The presence of wild bison in Montana is perceived as a threat to many cattle ranchers, who fear that the small percentage of bison that carry brucellosis will infect livestock and cause cows to abort their first calves. However, there has never been a documented case of brucellosis being transmitted to cattle from wild bison. The management controversy that began in the early 1980s continues to this day, with advocacy groups arguing that the Yellowstone Park Bison Herd
Yellowstone Park Bison Herd
The Yellowstone Park bison herd in Yellowstone National Park is probably the oldest and largest public bison herd in the United States of America. Yellowstone is known for its geothermal activity and large mammals, especially Elk, Wolves, American Bison, Bears, Pronghorn Antelope, Moose and Bighorn...

 should be protected as a distinct population segment under the Endangered Species Act
Endangered Species Act
The Endangered Species Act of 1973 is one of the dozens of United States environmental laws passed in the 1970s. Signed into law by President Richard Nixon on December 28, 1973, it was designed to protect critically imperiled species from extinction as a "consequence of economic growth and...

.

Bison hunting today


Hunting of wild bison is legal in some states and provinces where public herds require culling
Culling
Culling is the process of removing animals from a group based on specific criteria. This is done either to reinforce certain desirable characteristics or to remove certain undesirable characteristics from the group...

 to maintain a target population. In Alberta
Alberta
Alberta is a province of Canada. It had an estimated population of 3.7 million in 2010 making it the most populous of Canada's three prairie provinces...

, where one of only two continuously wild herds of bison exist in North America at Wood Buffalo National Park
Wood Buffalo National Park
Wood Buffalo National Park, located in northeastern Alberta and southern Northwest Territories, is the largest national park in Canada at . The park was established in 1922 to protect the world's largest herd of free roaming Wood Bison, currently estimated at more than 5,000...

, bison are hunted to protect disease-free public (reintroduced) and private herds of bison.

Bison hunting in Utah
Utah
Utah is a state in the Western United States. It was the 45th state to join the Union, on January 4, 1896. Approximately 80% of Utah's 2,763,885 people live along the Wasatch Front, centering on Salt Lake City. This leaves vast expanses of the state nearly uninhabited, making the population the...

 is permitted in both the Antelope Island Bison Herd
Antelope Island Bison Herd
Antelope Island in Great Salt Lake, Utah, United States of America is part of Antelope Island State Park. On the island, a semi-free ranging population of "Buffaloes" or American Bison have been in existence since 1893. Though the island was named for the Pronghorn Antelope that John C...

 and the Henry Mountains Bison Herd
Henry Mountains Bison Herd
The Henry Mountains Bison Herd, numbering 250 to 400 bison, is believed to be one of only four free roaming and genetically pure herds on public lands in North America...

 though the licenses are limited and tightly controlled. A Game Ranger is also generally sent out with any hunters to help them find and select the right bison to kill. In this way, the hunting is used as a part of the wildlife management strategy and to help cull less desirable individuals.

In Montana, a public hunt was reestablished in 2005, with 50 permits being issued. The Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Commission increased the number of tags to 140 for the 2006/2007 season. Advocacy groups claim that it is premature to reestablish the hunt, given the bison's lack of habitat and wildlife status in Montana.

Bison were also reintroduced to Alaska in 1928, and both domestic and wild herds subsist in a few parts of the state. The state grants limited permits to hunt wild bison each year.

The bison is one of the few North American large game animals that can be hunted year round, though hunters prefer to hunt it at certain times of the year to achieve desired appearances of the coat.

In 2002 the United States government donated some buffalo calves from South Dakota and Colorado to the Mexican government for the reintroduction of bison to Mexico's nature reserves. These reserves included El Uno Ranch at Janos and Santa Helena Canyon, Chihuahua, and Boquillas del Carmen, Coahuila
Coahuila
Coahuila, formally Coahuila de Zaragoza , officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Coahuila de Zaragoza is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico...

, which is located on the southern shore of the Rio Grande and the grasslands bordering Texas and New Mexico.
Range history of bison in North America

Genetics


Two of the major problems that bison face today are the genetic bottleneck and lack of genetic diversity
Genetic diversity
Genetic diversity, the level of biodiversity, refers to the total number of genetic characteristics in the genetic makeup of a species. It is distinguished from genetic variability, which describes the tendency of genetic characteristics to vary....

 that has been caused by the very small number of bison that survived their near extinction event. A second genetic problem is the entry of genes from domestic cattle into the bison population, through hybridization.

Officially, the "American buffalo" is classified by the United States Government as a type of cattle, and the government allows private herds to be managed as such. This is a reflection of the characteristics that bison share with cattle. Though the American bison (Bison bison) is not only a separate species, but is usually regarded as being in a separate genus from Domestic cattle (Bos primigenius), they clearly have a lot of genetic compatibility and American bison can interbreed with cattle, although only the female offspring in the first generation are fertile. These female hybrids can be bred back to either bison or domestic bulls, resulting in either 1/4 or 3/4 bison young. Female offspring from this cross are also fertile, but males are not reliably fertile unless they are either 7/8 bison or 7/8 domestic. Moreover, when they do interbreed, crossbreed animals in the first generation tend to look very much like purebred bison, so appearance is completely unreliable as a means of determining what is a purebred bison and what is a crossbred cow. Many ranchers have deliberately cross bred their cattle with bison, and it would also be expected that there could be some natural hybridization in areas where cattle and bison occur in the same range. Since cattle and bison eat similar food and tolerate similar conditions, they have often been in the same range together in the past, and opportunity for cross breeding may sometimes have been common.

In recent decades tests were developed to determine the source of mitochondrial DNA in cattle and bison, and it was found that most private 'buffalo' herds were actually cross bred with cattle, and even most state and federal buffalo herds had some cattle DNA. With the advent of nuclear microsatellite DNA testing, the number of herds that contained cattle genes has increased. Though approximately 500,000 bison exist on private ranches and in public herds, some people estimate that perhaps only 15,000 to 25,000 of these bison are pure and are not actually bison-cattle hybrids. "DNA from domestic cattle (Bos taurus) has been detected in nearly all bison herds examined to date." Significant public bison herds that do not appear to have hybridized domestic cattle genes are the Yellowstone Park Bison Herd
Yellowstone Park Bison Herd
The Yellowstone Park bison herd in Yellowstone National Park is probably the oldest and largest public bison herd in the United States of America. Yellowstone is known for its geothermal activity and large mammals, especially Elk, Wolves, American Bison, Bears, Pronghorn Antelope, Moose and Bighorn...

, the Henry Mountains Bison Herd
Henry Mountains Bison Herd
The Henry Mountains Bison Herd, numbering 250 to 400 bison, is believed to be one of only four free roaming and genetically pure herds on public lands in North America...

 which was started with bison taken from Yellowstone Park, the Wind Cave Bison Herd
Wind Cave Bison Herd
The Wind Cave bison herd is a herd of 250–400 American Bison in Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota, USA. It is believed to be one of only four free roaming and genetically pure herds on public lands in North America. The other three herds are the Yellowstone Park bison herd, the Henry Mountains...

 and the Wood Buffalo National Park Bison Herd and subsidiary herds started from it, in Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

.

A landmark study of bison genetics that was performed by James Derr of the Texas A&M University corroborated this. The Derr study was undertaken in an attempt to determine what genetic problems bison might face as they repopulate former areas, and it noted that bison seem to be doing quite well, despite their apparent genetic bottleneck. One possible explanation for this might be the small amount of domestic cattle genes that are now in most bison populations, though this isn't the only possible explanation for bison success.

In the study cattle genes were also found in small amounts throughout most national, state and private herds. "The hybridization experiments conducted by some of the owners of the five foundation herds of the late 1800s, have left a legacy of a small amount of cattle genetics in many of our existing bison herds." He also said, "All of the state owned bison herds tested (except for possibly one) contain animals with domestic cattle mtDNA." It appears that the one state herd that had no cattle genes was the Henry Mountains Bison Herd
Henry Mountains Bison Herd
The Henry Mountains Bison Herd, numbering 250 to 400 bison, is believed to be one of only four free roaming and genetically pure herds on public lands in North America...

 in the Henry Mountains
Henry Mountains
The Henry Mountains are located in the southeastern portion of the U.S. state of Utah and run in a generally north-south direction, extending over a distance of about 30 miles . They were named by John Wesley Powell in honour of Joseph Henry, the first secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. The...

 of Utah. It is also notable that the Henry Mountain Herd was started initially with transplanted animals from Yellowstone Park. However, the extension of this herd into the Book Cliffs
Book Cliffs
The Book Cliffs are a series of mountains and cliffs in western Colorado and eastern Utah, in the western United States. They are so named because many of them have the triangular appearance of a book that has been opened up, then turned on its sides and set to rest on the open sides of the book,...

 of Central Utah
Utah
Utah is a state in the Western United States. It was the 45th state to join the Union, on January 4, 1896. Approximately 80% of Utah's 2,763,885 people live along the Wasatch Front, centering on Salt Lake City. This leaves vast expanses of the state nearly uninhabited, making the population the...

 involved mixing the founders with additional bison from another source, so it is not known if the Book Cliff extension of the herd is also free of cattle hybridization.

So, are the bison in Yellowstone National Park and other 'unhybridized' herds completely free of genes from Domestic Cattle? It would appear so at the current time. However, there are those geneticists that speculate that in the future, as our genetic testing improves, it may be discovered that almost all bison have some genetic inheritance from domestic cattle.

A separate study by Wilson and Strobeck, published in Genome, was done to define the relationships between different herds of bison in the United States and Canada, and to determine whether the bison at Wood Buffalo National Park
Wood Buffalo National Park
Wood Buffalo National Park, located in northeastern Alberta and southern Northwest Territories, is the largest national park in Canada at . The park was established in 1922 to protect the world's largest herd of free roaming Wood Bison, currently estimated at more than 5,000...

 in Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and the Yellowstone Park Bison Herd
Yellowstone Park Bison Herd
The Yellowstone Park bison herd in Yellowstone National Park is probably the oldest and largest public bison herd in the United States of America. Yellowstone is known for its geothermal activity and large mammals, especially Elk, Wolves, American Bison, Bears, Pronghorn Antelope, Moose and Bighorn...

 were possibly separate subspecies, and not plains bison. It was determined that the Wood Buffalo Park bison were actually cross breeds between plains bison and wood bison, but that their predominant genetic makeup was truly that of the expected "wood buffalo." However, the Yellowstone Park Bison Herd were pure plains bison, and not any of the other previously suggested subspecies. Another interesting finding was that the bison in the Antelope Island Bison Herd
Antelope Island Bison Herd
Antelope Island in Great Salt Lake, Utah, United States of America is part of Antelope Island State Park. On the island, a semi-free ranging population of "Buffaloes" or American Bison have been in existence since 1893. Though the island was named for the Pronghorn Antelope that John C...

 in Utah
Utah
Utah is a state in the Western United States. It was the 45th state to join the Union, on January 4, 1896. Approximately 80% of Utah's 2,763,885 people live along the Wasatch Front, centering on Salt Lake City. This leaves vast expanses of the state nearly uninhabited, making the population the...

 appeared to be more distantly related to other plains bison in general than any other plains bison group that was tested, though this might be due to genetic drift caused by the small size of only 12 individuals in the founder population. A side finding of this was that the Antelope Island Bison Herd
Antelope Island Bison Herd
Antelope Island in Great Salt Lake, Utah, United States of America is part of Antelope Island State Park. On the island, a semi-free ranging population of "Buffaloes" or American Bison have been in existence since 1893. Though the island was named for the Pronghorn Antelope that John C...

 appears to be most closely related to the Wood Buffalo National Park Bison Herd, though the Antelope Island
Antelope Island
Antelope Island, with an area of , is the largest island of 10 islands located within the Great Salt Lake, Utah, United States. The island lies in the southeastern portion of the lake, near Salt Lake City and Davis County, and becomes a peninsula when the lake is at extremely low levels. Antelope...

 bison are actually plains bison.

Bison trails


The first thoroughfares of North America, except for the time-obliterated paths of mastodon
Mastodon
Mastodons were large tusked mammal species of the extinct genus Mammut which inhabited Asia, Africa, Europe, North America and Central America from the Oligocene through Pleistocene, 33.9 mya to 11,000 years ago. The American mastodon is the most recent and best known species of the group...

 or muskox and the routes of the Mound Builders, were the traces made by bison and deer
Deer
Deer are the ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae. Species in the Cervidae family include white-tailed deer, elk, moose, red deer, reindeer, fallow deer, roe deer and chital. Male deer of all species and female reindeer grow and shed new antlers each year...

 in seasonal migration and between feeding grounds and salt lick
Salt lick
A mineral lick is a natural mineral deposit where animals in nutrient-poor ecosystems can obtain essential mineral nutrients...

s. Many of these routes, hammered by countless hoofs instinctively following watersheds and the crests of ridges in avoidance of lower places' summer muck and winter snowdrifts, were followed by the Indians as courses to hunting grounds and as warriors' paths. They were invaluable to explorers and were adopted by pioneers
Territorial acquisitions of the United States
This is a simplified list of United States territorial acquisitions, beginning with American independence. Note that this list primarily concerns land acquired from other nation-states; the numerous territorial acquisitions from American Indians are not listed here.-1783-1848:*The 1783 Treaty of...

.

Bison traces were characteristically north and south, but several key east-west trails were used later as railways. Some of these include the Cumberland Gap
Cumberland Gap
Cumberland Gap is a pass through the Cumberland Mountains region of the Appalachian Mountains, also known as the Cumberland Water Gap, at the juncture of the U.S. states of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia...

 through the Blue Ridge Mountains
Blue Ridge Mountains
The Blue Ridge Mountains are a physiographic province of the larger Appalachian Mountains range. This province consists of northern and southern physiographic regions, which divide near the Roanoke River gap. The mountain range is located in the eastern United States, starting at its southern-most...

 to upper Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

. A heavily used trace
Buffalo Trace (road)
The Buffalo Trace was a trackway running through what are now the American states of Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois. Originally formed by migrating bison, the trace crossed the Ohio River near the Falls of the Ohio and the Wabash River near Vincennes...

 crossed the Ohio River
Ohio River
The Ohio River is the largest tributary, by volume, of the Mississippi River. At the confluence, the Ohio is even bigger than the Mississippi and, thus, is hydrologically the main stream of the whole river system, including the Allegheny River further upstream...

 at the Falls of the Ohio
Falls of the Ohio National Wildlife Conservation Area
The Falls of the Ohio National Wildlife Conservation Area is a national, bi-state area on the Ohio River near Louisville, Kentucky in the United States, administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Federal status was awarded in 1981.- Overview :...

 and ran west, crossing the Wabash River
Wabash River
The Wabash River is a river in the Midwestern United States that flows southwest from northwest Ohio near Fort Recovery across northern Indiana to southern Illinois, where it forms the Illinois-Indiana border before draining into the Ohio River, of which it is the largest northern tributary...

 near Vincennes, Indiana
Vincennes, Indiana
Vincennes is a city in and the county seat of Knox County, Indiana, United States. It is located on the Wabash River in the southwestern part of the state. The population was 18,701 at the 2000 census...

. In Senator Thomas Hart Benton
Thomas Hart Benton (senator)
Thomas Hart Benton , nicknamed "Old Bullion", was a U.S. Senator from Missouri and a staunch advocate of westward expansion of the United States. He served in the Senate from 1821 to 1851, becoming the first member of that body to serve five terms...

's phrase saluting these sagacious path-makers, the bison paved the way for the railroads to the Pacific.

Bison as a symbol




The American bison is often used in North America in official seals, flags, and logos. In the United States, the American bison is a popular symbol in the Great Plains states. Kansas, Oklahoma, and Wyoming have adopted the animal as their official state mammal, and many sports teams have chosen the bison as their mascot. In Canada, the bison is the official animal of the province of Manitoba
Manitoba
Manitoba is a Canadian prairie province with an area of . The province has over 110,000 lakes and has a largely continental climate because of its flat topography. Agriculture, mostly concentrated in the fertile southern and western parts of the province, is vital to the province's economy; other...

 and appears on the Manitoba flag. It is also used in the official coat of arms of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police , literally ‘Royal Gendarmerie of Canada’; colloquially known as The Mounties, and internally as ‘The Force’) is the national police force of Canada, and one of the most recognized of its kind in the world. It is unique in the world as a national, federal,...

.

Several American coins feature the bison, most famously on the reverse side of the "buffalo nickel
Indian Head nickel
The Buffalo nickel or Indian Head nickel was a copper-nickel five-cent piece struck by the United States Mint from 1913 to 1938. It was designed by sculptor James Earle Fraser....

" from 1913 to 1938. In 2005, the United States Mint
United States Mint
The United States Mint primarily produces circulating coinage for the United States to conduct its trade and commerce. The Mint was created by Congress with the Coinage Act of 1792, and placed within the Department of State...

 coined a nickel with a new depiction of the bison as part of its "Westward Journey" series. The Kansas and North Dakota state quarters, part of the "50 State Quarter
50 State Quarters
The 50 State Quarters program is the release of a series of circulating commemorative coins by the United States Mint. Between 1999 and 2008, it featured each of the 50 U.S. states on unique designs for the reverse of the quarter....

" series, each feature bison. The Kansas state quarter has only the bison and does not feature any writing, while the North Dakota state quarter has two bison. The Yellowstone National Park Quarter also features a bison standing next to a geyser.

Other institutions which have adopted the bison as a symbol or mascot include:
  • U.S. Department of the Interior
  • Bethany College (West Virginia)
    Bethany College (West Virginia)
    Bethany College is a private liberal arts college located in Bethany, West Virginia, United States. Founded in 1840, Bethany is the oldest institution of Higher Education in West Virginia.-Location:...

  • Bucknell University
    Bucknell University
    Bucknell University is a private liberal arts university located alongside the West Branch Susquehanna River in the rolling countryside of Central Pennsylvania in the town of Lewisburg, 30 miles southeast of Williamsport and 60 miles north of Harrisburg. The university consists of the College of...

  • Buffalo, New York
    Buffalo, New York
    Buffalo is the second most populous city in the state of New York, after New York City. Located in Western New York on the eastern shores of Lake Erie and at the head of the Niagara River across from Fort Erie, Ontario, Buffalo is the seat of Erie County and the principal city of the...

  • Buffalo Bills
    Buffalo Bills
    The Buffalo Bills are a professional football team based in Buffalo, New York. They are currently members of the East Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League...

  • Buffalo Bisons
    Buffalo Bisons
    The Buffalo Bisons are a minor league baseball team based in Buffalo, New York. They currently play in the International League and are the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets...

  • Buffalo Bulls
    Buffalo Bulls
    The Buffalo Bulls are the athletic teams representing the University at Buffalo in intercollegiate athletics. The Bulls currently play in Division I , and are a member of the Mid-American Conference for all sports except women's rowing who is in the Cononial Athletic Assocition . They have been a...

  • Buffalo Grove High School
    Buffalo Grove High School
    Buffalo Grove High School, or BGHS is a public high school located in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, a northwest suburb of Chicago. It is one of six four-year comprehensive high schools in Township High School District 214, serving portions of the Villages of Buffalo Grove, Arlington Heights and a small...

  • Buffalo Sabres
    Buffalo Sabres
    The Buffalo Sabres are a professional ice hockey team based in Buffalo, New York. They are members of the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League .-Founding and early success: 1970-71—1980-81:...

  • University at Buffalo, The State University of New York
    University at Buffalo, The State University of New York
    University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, also commonly known as the University at Buffalo or UB, is a public research university and a "University Center" in the State University of New York system. The university was founded by Millard Fillmore in 1846. UB has multiple campuses...

  • University of Colorado
    University of Colorado at Boulder
    The University of Colorado Boulder is a public research university located in Boulder, Colorado...

  • Gallaudet University
    Gallaudet University
    Gallaudet University is a federally-chartered university for the education of the deaf and hard of hearing, located in the District of Columbia, U.S...

  • Harding University
    Harding University
    Harding University is located in Searcy, Arkansas, in the United States, about north-east of Little Rock. It is a private liberal arts Christian university associated with the Churches of Christ. The university takes its name from James A...

  • Howard University
    Howard University
    Howard University is a federally chartered, non-profit, private, coeducational, nonsectarian, historically black university located in Washington, D.C., United States...

  • Seal of the State of Indiana
  • Lipscomb University
    Lipscomb University
    Lipscomb University is a private, coeducational, liberal arts university in Nashville, Tennessee, United States. It is affiliated with the Churches of Christ. The campus is located in the Green Hills neighborhood of Nashville between Belmont Boulevard to the west and Granny White Pike on the east...

  • Coat of Arms of Manitoba
    Coat of arms of Manitoba
    The original coat of arms of Manitoba was granted to Manitoba by a Royal Warrant of King Edward VII on 10 May 1905. The shield is also featured on the provincial flag.-History:...

  • Flag of Manitoba
    Flag of Manitoba
    The flag of Manitoba is a variation of the Red Ensign which bears the shield of the provincial coat of arms. This flag was approved by the passage of a bill in the Manitoba Legislative Assembly on May 11, 1965. Queen Elizabeth II having given permission for the use of the Union device in October...

  • University of Manitoba
    University of Manitoba
    The University of Manitoba , in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, is the largest university in the province of Manitoba. It is Manitoba's most comprehensive and only research-intensive post-secondary educational institution. It was founded in 1877, making it Western Canada’s first university. It placed...

  • Marshall University
    Marshall University
    Marshall University is a coeducational public research university in Huntington, West Virginia, United States founded in 1837, and named after John Marshall, the fourth Chief Justice of the United States....

  • Milligan College
    Milligan College
    Milligan College is a Christian liberal arts college founded in 1866 and located immediately outside of Elizabethton in Carter County, Tennessee, United States. The school has a student population of just over 1,100 students as well as a campus that is located just minutes from downtown Johnson City...

  • Independence Party of Minnesota
    Independence Party of Minnesota
    The Independence Party of Minnesota , formerly the Reform Party of Minnesota, is the third largest political party in Minnesota, behind the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party and Republican Party . It is the political party of former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura , and endorsed former U.S...

  • Ralph Nader
    Ralph Nader
    Ralph Nader is an American political activist, as well as an author, lecturer, and attorney. Areas of particular concern to Nader include consumer protection, humanitarianism, environmentalism, and democratic government....

     (mascot for his 2008 campaign for president)
  • Nichols College
    Nichols College
    Nichols College is a private, co-educational, four-year institution of higher learning that is located in Dudley, Massachusetts.Nichols has many diverse majors that mainly focus on business and liberal arts. The school also offers an MBA program for graduate students.Nichols College athletics...

  • North Dakota State University
    North Dakota State University
    North Dakota State University of Agriculture and Applied Sciences, more commonly known as North Dakota State University , is a public university in Fargo, North Dakota. NDSU has about 14,000 students and it is the largest university in North Dakota based on full time students and land size...

  • Oklahoma Baptist University
    Oklahoma Baptist University
    Oklahoma Baptist University is a co-educational Christian liberal arts university located in Shawnee, Oklahoma, and owned by the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Established in 1910, OBU is ranked No.2 among baccalaureate colleges in the western region in the 2010 U.S...

  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police
    Royal Canadian Mounted Police
    The Royal Canadian Mounted Police , literally ‘Royal Gendarmerie of Canada’; colloquially known as The Mounties, and internally as ‘The Force’) is the national police force of Canada, and one of the most recognized of its kind in the world. It is unique in the world as a national, federal,...

  • Southwestern Law School
  • CFB Wainwright
    CFB Wainwright
    Canadian Forces Base Wainwright, commonly referred to as CFB Wainwright is a Canadian Forces Base located in Denwood, Alberta, adjacent to the town of Wainwright.-Military Camp Wainwright:...

  • West Texas A&M University
    West Texas A&M University
    West Texas A&M University , part of the Texas A&M University System, is a public university located in Canyon, Texas, a small city south of Amarillo. West Texas A&M opened on September 20, 1910...

  • Tooele High School, Tooele, UT
  • The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, Alberta
    Wood Buffalo, Alberta
    The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo is a specialized municipality located in northeastern Alberta. Formed as a result of the amalgamation of the City of Fort McMurray and Improvement District No. 143 on April 1, 1995, it is the second largest municipality in Alberta by area...


Dangers


Bison are among the most dangerous animals encountered by visitors to the various U.S. and Canadian national parks, and will attack humans if provoked. They appear slow because of their lethargic movements but can easily outrun humans — bison have been observed running as fast as 35–40 mph (56.3–64.4 km/h). Bison are more agile than one might expect, given their size and body structure.

Between 1980 and 1999, more than three times as many people in Yellowstone National Park were injured by bison than by bears. During this period, bison charged and injured 79 people, with injuries ranging from goring puncture wounds and broken bones to bruises and abrasions. Bears injured 24 people during the same time frame. Three people died from the injuries inflicted - one person by bison in 1983, and two people by bears in 1984 and 1986.

See also


  • American Bison Society
    American Bison Society
    The American Bison Society was founded in 1905 by pioneering conservationists and sportsmen including William T. Hornaday and Theodore Roosevelt to help save the bison from extinction and raise public awareness about the species....

  • Yellowstone Park Bison Herd
    Yellowstone Park Bison Herd
    The Yellowstone Park bison herd in Yellowstone National Park is probably the oldest and largest public bison herd in the United States of America. Yellowstone is known for its geothermal activity and large mammals, especially Elk, Wolves, American Bison, Bears, Pronghorn Antelope, Moose and Bighorn...

  • Antelope Island Bison Herd
    Antelope Island Bison Herd
    Antelope Island in Great Salt Lake, Utah, United States of America is part of Antelope Island State Park. On the island, a semi-free ranging population of "Buffaloes" or American Bison have been in existence since 1893. Though the island was named for the Pronghorn Antelope that John C...

  • Henry Mountains Bison Herd
    Henry Mountains Bison Herd
    The Henry Mountains Bison Herd, numbering 250 to 400 bison, is believed to be one of only four free roaming and genetically pure herds on public lands in North America...

  • Wind Cave Bison Herd
    Wind Cave Bison Herd
    The Wind Cave bison herd is a herd of 250–400 American Bison in Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota, USA. It is believed to be one of only four free roaming and genetically pure herds on public lands in North America. The other three herds are the Yellowstone Park bison herd, the Henry Mountains...

  • Bovid hybrid
    Bovid hybrid
    A bovid hybrid is a hybrid of two different members of the bovid family.-Bison/Domestic cattle hybrids:The American bison and European bison have been hybridized with Domestic Cattle. With wisent, this was originally done in an attempt to reinvigorate the declining wisent population...

  • Beefalo
    Beefalo
    Beefalo are a fertile hybrid offspring of domestic cattle, Bos taurus, and the American bison, Bison bison...

  • Buffalo Commons
    Buffalo Commons
    The Buffalo Commons is a conceptual proposal to create a vast nature preserve by returning of the drier portion of the Great Plains to native prairie, and by reintroducing the buffalo, or American Bison, that once grazed the shortgrass prairie...

  • Bison hunting
    Bison hunting
    Buffalo hunting was an activity fundamental to the Plains Indian tribes of the United States, which was later adopted by American professional hunters, leading to the near-extinction of the species.- Native hunting :...

  • Buffalo Hunters' War
    Buffalo Hunters' War
    The Buffalo Hunters' War, or the Staked Plains War, occurred in 1877. Approximately 170 Comanche warriors and their families led by Black Horse left the Indian Territory in December, 1876, for the Llano Estacado of Texas...

  • Great bison belt
    Great bison belt
    The Great Bison Belt is a tract of rich grassland that ran from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico around 9000 BC. The Great Bison Belt was supported by spring and early summer rainfall that allowed short grasses to grow...

  • Plains hide painting
    Plains hide painting
    Plains hide painting is a traditional Plains Indian artistic practice of painting on either tanned or raw animal hides. Tipis, tipi liners, shields, parfleches, robes, clothing, drums, and winter counts could all be painted.-Genres:...

  • Wisent
    Wisent
    The wisent , Bison bonasus, also known as the European bison or European wood bison, is a species of Eurasian bison. It is the heaviest surviving land animal in Europe; a typical wisent is about long, not counting a tail of long, and tall. Weight typically can range from , with an occasional big...



Further reading




External links