American Bison ( http://www.technogypsie.com/science/?p=3493) – Yellowstone National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=27297)
Names: Bison bison. Common: Buffalo, Bison, American Bison. Kingdom: Animalia. Phylum: Chordata. Class: Mammalia. Order: Cetartiodactyla. Family: Bovidae. Genus species: Bison bison. Two types in North America: Bison bison and Bison athabascae.
Once upon a time there were millions of bison roaming the plains of North America. Today they stand as a potentially extinction level species, being so already in Mexico with only a few hundred left in the United States by the 1880s and today upwards of 200,000. They extended from Alaska down through Mexico, throughout the lands of present day America. They are the largest mammal in North America, with the bulls (male bison) weighing upwards of 2,000 pounds and a max height of 6′ tall. Cows (females) can weigh upwards of 1000 pounds at a height of 4-5 feet tall. The calves (babies) can weigh 30-70 pounds at birth. At maturity they have long shaggy brown coats, poor eyesight, keen sense of smell and hearing. They are actually quite fast, able to run upwards of 40 miles per hour. They possess curved sharp horns that can grow upwards of two feet in length. They feed primarily on grasses, herbs, shrubs, and twigs that they regurgitate and re-chew before digestion. The cows and bulls tend to live in small separated bands often herding together during mating season in the summer. The bulls will battle one another for mating primacy. Cows give birth to one calf after 9 months of pregnancy. Historically they were a primary food source to the Plains peoples.
Bison have historically roamed throughout North America from Alaska to Mexico, from the West Coast to the Appalachian Mountains. Plains bison was found from Northern Mexico to central Alberta. They are ecologically extinct in their historical range lands, but through farming and preserves can be found all over North America today. One of the few places that historically they have remained is Yellowstone National Park possessing the largest population of wild plains bison in North America. Bison are primarily extinct in their home rangelands of Mexico where only one herd occurs today in the wild. Native Ranges: Canada (Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Ontario, Saskatchewan); United States (Alabama – Regionally Extinct, Arizona, Arkansas – Regionally Extinct, California, Colorado – Regionally Extinct, Delaware – Regionally Extinct, District of Columbia – Regionally Extinct, Florida – Regionally Extinct, Georgia – Regionally Extinct, Idaho, Illinois – Regionally Extinct, Indiana – Regionally Extinct, Iowa – Regionally Extinct, Kansas – Regionally Extinct, Kentucky – Regionally Extinct, Louisiana – Regionally Extinct, Maryland – Regionally Extinct, Massachusetts – Regionally Extinct, Michigan – Regionally Extinct, Minnesota – Regionally Extinct, Mississippi – Regionally Extinct, Missouri – Regionally Extinct, Montana, Nebraska – Regionally Extinct, Nevada – Regionally Extinct, New Mexico – Regionally Extinct, New York – Regionally Extinct, North Carolina – Regionally Extinct, North Dakota – Regionally Extinct, Ohio – Regionally Extinct, Oklahoma – Regionally Extinct, Oregon – Regionally Extinct, Pennsylvania – Regionally Extinct, South Carolina – Regionally Extinct, South Dakota, Tennessee – Regionally Extinct, Texas – Possibly Extinct, Utah, Virginia – Regionally Extinct, Washington – Regionally Extinct, West Virginia – Regionally Extinct, Wisconsin – Regionally Extinct, Wyoming). They prefer grassland and meadow lands as they are herbivores. They can exist in arid regions and areas with deep snow cover. Yellowstone National Park is the only place where Bison have remained since prehistoric times.
They are the largest mammal in North America, with the bulls (male bison) weighing upwards of 2,000 pounds and a max height of 6′ tall. Cows (females) can weigh upwards of 1000 pounds at a height of 4-5 feet tall. The calves (babies) can weigh 30-70 pounds at birth. At maturity they have long shaggy brown coats, poor eyesight, keen sense of smell and hearing. They are actually quite fast, able to run upwards of 40 miles per hour. They possess curved sharp horns that can grow upwards of two feet in length. They feed primarily on grasses, herbs, shrubs, and twigs that they regurgitate and re-chew before digestion. The cows and bulls tend to live in small separated bands often herding together during mating season in the summer. The bulls will battle one another for mating primacy. Cows give birth to one calf after 9 months of pregnancy. A baby bison is sometimes called a “red dog” as they come out with an orange-red color being typically born late March through May. After a few months the hair changes to dark brown, shoulders hump, and horns grow. They have a unique behavior pattern that can often be figured out by the bison’s tail – if it hangs down and switches naturally the beast is usually calm. If it is standing up it could be ready to charge or stampede. The animals are very unpredictable though and can create much damage and destruction, including injury and death to tourists. They run fast, stampede, very agile, can spin around quickly, jump or plow over high fences and can swim. The thick fur protects against the elements. Bison like to rub, roll, and wallow – often creating saucer-like depressions in the earth. Bulls and cows only mingle during breeding season (summer) with the bulls following around the cows until they choose to mate and blocking the cow’s vision from other bulls, mainly from June-September.
Diet: Bison are grass eaters and are listed as “herbivores”. They eat sedges, sage, grasses, weeds, leafy plants, twigs, and foliage. They tend to forage 9-11 hours a day.
Uses: Historically bison have been used for food and meat, their hides for clothing, bedding, and canvas. Horns have been used for art and collection. Native Americans have used the bison for food, clothing, fuel tools shelter, and an icon for spirituality.
It is believed that the bison originated in southern Asia thousands of years ago, making their way across the land bridge connecting Asia with North America during the Pliocene Epoch 400,000 years ago. These bison were much larger than today’s species. Historically there were once over 30 million bison roaming North America. They were minimally hunted by various Native American tribes. With the settling of the Americas by Westerners, game and sport in the 1800s almost decimated the bison into extinction. By 1889 there were recorded only 1,091 bison left. Today there is believed to be approximately 500,000 remaining. Unfortunately many of these are not wild bison, but cross-bred species with cattle. Fewer than 30,000 are considered wild and less than 5,000 are not fenced in and disease-free. In 1992 the Inter-tribal Council began to work with the National Park Service to re-introduce the bison onto tribal lands. On May 9, 2016 president Obama signed the National Bison Legacy Act officially making the American bison the national mammal of the United States. The bison has a great role with the Great Plains in that they graze heavily on native grasses, disturbing the soil with their hooves, allowing many plants and animals to flourish making the bison very important to native ecology.
The American Bison is a very sacred animal and symbol to Native Americans. The bison is a major role in many Native American creation myths. To the Lakota Sioux the white buffalo symbolizes the return of White Buffalo Calf Woman reflectant of their cultural prophet who brings forth the Seven Sacred Rites. The American bison is used often at national and state symbols on flags, coins, currency, and iconography.
American Bison ( http://www.technogypsie.com/science/?p=3493) – Yellowstone National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=27297) – Volcanic Legacy: Chronicle 25 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf, Lady Etain, and Prince Cian. Adventures in Idaho & Wyoming. Photos taken June 17, 2016. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21521. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan, Eadaoin Bineid and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Article by Thomas Baurley on 6/30/16.
- Defenders 2016 “Fact Sheet: Bison”. Website referenced 6/30/16 at http://www.defenders.org/bison/basic-facts.
- IUCN Red List 2016 “IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Bison”. Website referenced 6/30/16 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/2815/0.
- National Geographic 2016 “Bison Bison”. Website referenced 6/30/16 at http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/american-bison/
- USDOI 2016 “15 Facts about our Natonal Mammal”. Website referenced 6/30/16 at https://www.doi.gov/blog/15-facts-about-our-national-mammal-american-bison.