Bison in Winter

The American bison, the largest mammal in North America, once roamed the continent in vast herds and helped to shape the ecology of the Great Plains, as well as the history of the United States of America. Formidable in stature, the American bison’s massive frame is accentuated by its towering shoulder hump. Resting low on a short, stocky neck, the bulky head features a broad forehead, short, up-curving horns and a straggly beard. The head, neck, shoulders, and forelegs are covered in a long, shaggy, brownish-black coat. One of the most interesting bison facts is that their winter coat is so thick that snow can cover their back without melting.

Is Buffalo Bison?  What is the difference?

Scientifically, the term “buffalo” is incorrect for the North American species; its proper Latin name is Bison bison. However, common usage has made the term “buffalo” an acceptable synonym for the American bison. (from The American Buffalo in Transition, by J. Albert Rorabacher.)  So it is okay to call buffalo bison and bison buffalo!

How much do bison weigh?

A mature bison bull will weigh approximately 2,000 pounds while a mature bison cow will weigh approximately 1,100 pounds. But both the male and female bison have a sizable head with small curved horns and a scraggly beard.  At birth bison way a mere 40 to 50 pounds.

What do bison eat?

Bison are herbivores, feeding on the grasses of the prairie land all year round. They will generally rest during the day and graze in the mornings and evenings. They eat a wider range of items than cattle and will roam the entire pasture while eating. Bison also need to find water every day.

Are buffalo extinct?  Or are buffalo endangered?

Buffalo faced near extinction in the late 1900’s.  Their numbers in North America shrank from an estimated 50million when European settlers arrived to less than 2000 by the 1890’s.   The good news is that today they number over 500,000 and the American Bison is not considered endangered.

Can you tame bison?

Just as lions and tigers can be tamed by professional animal trainers, bison can also be trained. However, bison are not domestic animals.