Information On Bison (American Buffalo)



planet bison
Did you know that "home where the buffalo roam" is not a part of the United States.

The large, shaggy animal that we see on coins and described in stories are really bison.

The bison can run as fast as 30 miles an hour.


At one time, many herds of bison roamed North America from Canada to Mexico and from New York to Oregon. Today we find the bison mainly in parks and on wildlife preserves on the Great Plains and in the Rocky Mountains. Their buffalo relatives can be found in Africa and Asia.

The bison, the heaviest land animal found in North America, can weigh up to a ton or more. The adult male is 6 feet tall at the shoulders. The female cow is smaller. Both have short, curved horns and large humps on their shoulders.


The gestation period is nine months, a cow bears one offspring. The calf is born without horns or a hump. When the calf reaches two months the horns begin to show and the hump starts to grow. At one time there were fifty million bison living in North America. The largest numbers were found on the Great Plains.

American Indians depended on the bison for food, shelter, and clothing. Bison were also important to them in the practice of religions.

The settlers, when conquering the many tribes of Indians, found the bison to be a nuisance. Without conscience or regard to the natives, shooting the bison became a favorite pastime on the frontier. Traders killed the bison for their hides and tongues. By 1889, fewer than 600 bison were alive in the United States.

"American Buffalo" feeds on leaves, herbs, grasses, twigs, and shrubs.

The wisent (pronounced vee-zent), or European bison, is the relative of the North American bison. The European bison is taller and lacks the humped shoulders and long, shaggy hair of its cousin.

The life span of the bison is twelve to fifteen years on the preserves. Today there are more than 50,000 bison living on preserves.

The Future of the Bison

In the late 1800s the government outlawed the hunting of bison. Preserves were created just for the animals' protection.

Today the bison has made a comeback, though the numbers are nowhere near what they once were.



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