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American Bison (American Buffalo)

(Bison bison)


The American 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 (12 to 36 in). Shoulder height in the species can range from 152 to 186 cm (60 to 73 in). Typical weigh can range from 318 to 1,000 kg (700 to 2,200 lb). The heaviest wild bull ever recorded weighed 1,270 kg (2,800 lb). When raised in captivity and farmed for meat, the bison can grow unnaturally heavy and the largest semi-domestic bison weighed 1,724 kg (3,800 lb). The heads and forequarters are massive, and both sexes have short, curved horns that can grow up to 2 feet (61 cm) long,


Their range once roughly comprised a triangle between the Great Bear Lake in Canada's far northwest, south to the Mexican states of Durango and Nuevo León, and east along the western boundary of the Appalachian Mountains. 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.


Between 1830-1880, the American bison, or buffalo, was reduced in numbers from 60 million to a mere handful. By 1900 there were only two small wild herds in all of North America, numbering only 550 animals. This change was accelerated in the last 40 years of the 19th century by the coming of the buffalo hunter and thousands of land-hungry settlers. Farsighted conservation leaders such as President Theodore Roosevelt became concerned. They realized that this native American animal could easily become extinct. In 1905, William T. Hornaday and others organized the American Bison Society and demanded that the buffalo be given care and protection. Through the efforts of the American Bison Society and the New York Zoological Society, an offer was made to donate 15 bison to the Wichita National Forest and Game Preserve in Oklahoma. Congress set aside $15,000 for this purpose, and on October 11, 1907, 15 of the finest buffalo from the New York Zoological Park were shipped by rail to Oklahoma. Seven days later, these six bulls and nine cows had safely returned to the plains and mountains.There was great excitement in the little southwestern Oklahoma town of Cache when the train pulled in with the heavily-crated buffalo. The great Comanche Chief Quanah Parker was among those who came to the station. The crates were transferred to wagons and hauled the 13 miles to the Wichitas. People from the whole countryside flocked into the Wichita Forest to see the shaggy beasts. Mounted braves and their families rode in to see the bison of the plains that had provided meat and teepee skins for untold generations of their ancestors. 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, which is located on the southern shore of the Rio Grande and the grasslands bordering Texas and New Mexico.

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1 Comment

KarenL 11 years ago

Hi John, your first 3 photos haven't uploaded - please can you try again? This sometimes happens - I have found that if I wait for each image to 100% download & appear before starting to download the next one it seems to cure the problem.

Spotted by

Oklahoma, USA

Spotted on May 29, 2011
Submitted on Feb 26, 2012

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