American Bison

Bison are sometimes called buffalo. These shaggy animals are part of the sheep, goal, and cattle family.

What does a bison look like?
Bison are the largest living land mammal in North America. Most of their weight is in the front. They have huge heads. They have dark brown hair between their curving horns. Bison are mainly brownish-black. They are covered with a thick 'blanket' fur. The bison have short legs. Bison herds can run over 30 miles an hour.
Bison are about six feet tall. They can weight as much as a ton! The male is larger than the female.
In spring, a cow gives birth to one calf. Baby bison are called calves. They are a reddish brown color.
What do bison eat?
Bison eat grass. They normally feed five times a day. In the winter they use their hooves to dig for grass in the snow.
Where can I find a bison?
Bison travel in herds. Bands can have more than 60 bison. From late fall to spring, Males and females are separate. In the 1800s buffalo could be found all across North America. Most of the bison were killed in the 1800s. A few were protected. Today, many bison are found in parks in the northwest US and Canada.
Who are the friends and enemies of a bison?
Healthy adults have little to fear, especially in their herds. Bison's only significant predators are wolves and grizzlies that usually have to content themselves with preying on stray calves or old, weakened adults.The bison's primary defense is to stampede, running away from predators at speeds up to 32 miles per hour, faster than a wolf. They also can use their hooves and horns as formidable weapons against intruders. 

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Note: All photographs taken with a digital camera in Wyoming and North Dakota.

Developed by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 6/99. Update4/02.