On may 9, 2016, chairman Obama signed the national Bison legacy Act into law, officially make the American bison the nationwide mammal the the united States. This majestic animal joins the ranks of the outright eagle together the official symbol of our country—and much like the eagle, it"s among the greatest conservation success story of all time.

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In ancient times, millions of bison roamed north America—from the forests of Alaska and also the grasslands the Mexico to Nevada’s great Basin and also the eastern Appalachian Mountains. However by the late 1800s, there were only a couple of hundred bison left in the United claims after european settlers moved west, reduce the animal’s habitat and hunting the bison to close to extinction. Had it not been because that a couple of private people working through tribes, states and also the interior Department, the bison would certainly be die out today. 

Explore an ext fun facts around the American bison.


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More than 10,000 bison, consisting of this one in grand Teton nationwide Park, live on public lands managed by the department of the Interior.

Photo by Jerry Megenity

1. Bison are the largest mammal in phibìc America. Male bison (called bulls) weigh approximately 2,000 pounds and stand 6 feet tall, when females (called cows) weigh approximately 1,000 pounds and reach a elevation of 4-5 feet. Bison calves weigh 30–70 pounds at birth.

2. Since the late 19th century, Interior has been the primary national conservation steward of the bison. Public lands controlled by inner support 17 bison herds—or approximately 10,000 bison—in 12 states, including Alaska.

3. What’s the difference in between bison and buffalo? While bison and buffalo are supplied interchangeably, in phibìc America the clinical name is bison. Actually, it"s Bison bison bison (genus: Bison, species: bison, subspecies: bison), but only speak it as soon as is fine. Historians believe that the hatchet "buffalo" grew from the French word for beef, "boeuf."

4.Yellowstone nationwide Park is the only ar in the U.S. Whereby bison have actually continuously lived since prehistoric times. What renders Yellowstone"s bison so special is the they"re the pure descendants (free of cattle genes) of early bison that roamed our country"s grasslands. As of July 2015, Yellowstone"s bison population was estimated at 4,900—making it the biggest bison populace on windy lands.

5. What"s a "red dog"? It"s a baby bison. Bison calves tend to be born from late March through May and are orange-red in color, earning them the nickname "red dogs." after a couple of months, your hair starts to change to dark brown and also their characteristic shoulder hump and also horns begin to grow.

6. The background of bison and also Native Americans are intertwined. Bison have been integral to tribal culture, offering them with food, clothing, fuel, tools, shelter and also spiritual value. Established in 1992, the Inter tribal Buffalo Council works through the nationwide Park service to transfer bison from national park lands come tribal lands.

7. You can judge a bison"s atmosphere by that is tail. When that hangs down and also switches naturally, the bison is usually calm. If the tail is standing right up, clock out! It may be ready to charge. No matter what a bison"s tail is doing, remember the they are unpredictable and can fee at any moment. Every year, there space regrettable mishaps caused by people getting also close to these substantial animals. It"s great to love the bison, but love them native a distance. 

8. Wind cavern National Park"s herd assisted revive bison populations approximately the country. The story start in 1905 through the formation of the American Bison society and a reproduction program in ~ the new York City Zoo (today, the Bronx Zoo). Through 1913, the American Bison culture had sufficient bison to regain a free-ranging bison herd. Working with Interior, they donated 14 bison to Wind cave National Park in southern Dakota. An ext than 100 years later, the bison native Wind cave have helped reestablishing other herds throughout the joined States and most newly in Mexico. 

9. Bison may be big, but they"re also fast. They can run as much as 35 miles every hour. Plus, they"re very agile. Bison can spin around quickly, jump high fences and are strong swimmers.

10. Pass the salad, please. Bison generally eat grasses, weeds and leafy plants—typically foraging because that 9–11 hrs a day. That"s whereby the bison"s huge protruding shoulder hump come in handy during the winter. It enables them to swing your heads native side-to-side to clean snow—especially for developing foraging patches. Learn exactly how bison"s feeding behavior can aid ensure diversity of prairie plant species especially after ~ a fire.

11. Native hunter to conservationist, Teddy Roosevelt assisted save bison native extinction. In 1883, Teddy Roosevelt traveled to the Dakota territory to hunt bison. ~ spending a couple of years in the west, Roosevelt went back to new York v a new outlook top top life. He paved the method for the preservation movement, and in 1905, developed the American Bison Society with william Hornaday to conserve the disappearing bison. This particular day bison live in every 50 states, consisting of Native American lands, wildlife refuges, nationwide parks and also private lands.

12. Bison deserve to live increase to 20 years old. The median lifespan because that a bison is 10–20 years, but some live to it is in older. Cows start breeding at the period of 2 and also only have actually one infant at a time. For males, the prime reproduction age is 6–10 years. Learn just how Interior functions to ensure genetic diversity and also long-term viability of bison.

13. A little dirt won"t hurt. Called wallowing, bison role in the dirt to deter biting flies and aid shed fur. Masculine bison also wallow during mating season to leaving behind your scent and display their strength.

14. The American bison"s ancestors have the right to be traced to southern Asia hundreds of years ago. Bison do their way to America by cross the old land leg that once connected Asia v North America during the Pliocene Epoch, part 400,000 year ago. These old animals were much bigger than the above bison us love today. Fossil records present that one ancient bison, Bison latiforns, had horns measuring 9 feet from pointer to tip.

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15. Bison are nearsighted—who knew? While bison have poor eyesight, they have wonderful senses of smell and hearing. Cows and also calves interact using pig-like grunts, and during adjustment season, bulls have the right to be heard bellowing across long distances.