There are only about 500,000 bison alive today, of these, only about 11,250 are classed as truly 'wild'.  The rest are mainly on ranches or in managed herds in conservation areas.



American BisonOrder: Artiodactyla

Family: Bovidae

Species: Bison Bison

IUCN Red List Status: Last assessed in 2016 as Near Threatened but their population remains stable.

Distribution: Parks and reserves throughout North America.

Habitat: Open prairies.

Description: Large horned cattle. Thick mantle of fur on head and forequarters, cooler coat in summer.

Size: Length (head and body): 210-350cm, (tail) 5

0-60cm weight: (males) up to 1000kg, (females) up to 600kg.

Life-span: 20 years in wild, up to 40 years in captivity.

Food: Bison feed mainly on grass. They can cover up to 3km during a day's grazing. Like cows, they chew the cud, swallowing their food and regurgitating it to chew again. They spend most of the day grazing, and much of the night is spent chewing the cud. Where grazing is good, and during the migrations, hundreds of bison may form large herds, but normally they live in smaller groups of about 50.

Bison have poor eyesight but good hearing and sense of smell, so they group together in herds, as a means of defence against wolves. This way there is a better chance of danger being detected earlier, and large numbers help to confuse predators. If attacked, bison will either run, or if this is not possible, surround their young, forming a defensive circle, with the bulls on the outside and the females and young in the middle.

Read More: Breeding

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