American bison. By Georgii Shipin |
American bison. By Georgii Shipin |

About American bisons.

There are two subspecies of American bison: the plains bison and the mountain bison. The latter is more endangered than its relative.

This species has its origin in Europe and it moved to North America over the Bering Strait.

It can reach speeds of 57 km/h (35.4 mph) when running.

Today there are an estimated of 350,000 bison (only 30,000 living in the wild), a shocking number compared to an estimated 80 million in the mid-19th century. By 1890 only a herd of around 50 individuals, located in Yellowstone national Park, remained in the wild.

It is the largest terrestrial animal in North America.

American bison live in large herds with levels of hierarchy. Each male has a female herd where they look for females to mate with in late Summer. Male offspring leave the herd when they are three years old and come back every year for the mating season.

This species is continuously on the move, following the seasons and the growth of pastures so as not to exhaust the resources of any one area they inhabit.

The American bison was very important for the survival and way of life of North American natives. They used its meat for food, its hide for clothes and shelter, its manure for fuel and its bones for tools. With the arrival of white men and intensive hunting, the species almost became extinct.

Ironically, the demand for bison meat in U.S. has played a big role in its ecological restoration. Ranchers are currently of vital importance in the conservation and restoration of the American bison.

This animal has a huge head and hump (comprised of muscles) and short curly hair that covers face and back, growing less thick towards the rear part. Both males and females have short, curved, distinctive horns. Their body structure allows them to dig through snow to find food.

This species was nearly annihilated by the U.S. military. They began killing this animal in order to defeat the natives who depended on them. There are also accounts from this time of great slaughtering of bison, just for fun.

The herd in Yellowstone is the only one genetically isolated from cattle and this is the only known location the American bison have inhabited since prehistoric times.

Bison in grasslands of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming in the United States of America. By sergioboccardo |
Bison in grasslands of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming in the United States of America. By sergioboccardo |
American Bison (Buffalo)Near threatened
Bison bison2,13-3,8 m (7-12.4 ft)152-186 cm (59.8-73.2 in)
Bovidae500-1100 kg (1,102-2,425 lb)
Artiodactyla15 years
Mammalia9 months
350,000 specimensThey are ruminants that eat pasture on the plains.
They live in prairies and plains.They live on the plains of the north of Mexico, U.S. and Canada in large herds, from Great Slave Lake to Mexico and from the east of Oregon to the Appalachian Mountains.

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