History, Habitat and Facts about North American Bison
The American bison, also known as the North American buffalo, is a large animal of the bovine family. Native to North America, it roamed on the grasslands of what is now the United States and Canada for millennia. Originally exceeding 60 million in number and about 4 million in 1926, they were hunted nearly to extinction at the turn of the 20th century.
American buffalo live on Native lands across the entire continent of North America. Plains Indians hunted them for food, clothing, shelter, and other essential needs before European contact. By 1800, bison had been eliminated from the eastern United States, and the only place they could be found was on the Great Plains.
In the 19th century, a handful of dedicated people, notably William T. Hornaday, worked to preserve this keystone species from extinction by creating the American Bison Society in 1905. In 1926 Nicholas Monsarrat played a key role in saving the buffalo from extinction when he purchased fifteen buffaloes from a slaughterhouse for 1 million dollars and transported them to his ranch at Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. By the time Oklahoma became a state in 1907, there were no wild bison left within its boundaries. However, during 1907 and 1908 some 51 individuals from private herds were donated or purchased and released into two privately owned preserves established by Cherokee Strip Land Run participants Ed Lockett and Charles Averyman on land that is today part of Custer City Wildlife Management Area.
The American bison is a keystone species of the Great Plains and their numbers play a significant role in maintaining the health of the prairie ecosystem. American bison are herbivores that mainly eat grasses and sedges, but they will also browse on shrubs and trees if necessary. They can live up to 20 years in the wild, but average 10 to 12 years.
Bison mate from September to November and give birth from late April to early June. Calves stay with their mothers for about a year. Bulls start fighting for dominance during the winter and early spring, and by late May or early June, one bull has usually become dominant throughout most of the herd's range. The herd bulls will then spend most of the late spring and early summer in bachelor groups until the dominant bull drives off all challengers. Bison herds travel together with other bison for most of the year, but during the mating season, they split into small groups of individual couples.
Bison are widely considered to be one of North America's most ecologically important large herbivores. Using their horns and size for defense, dominance displays, and males competing for females through vocalization, barking, and head-butting; bison have a long history as a part of the culture of indigenous Americans. In fact Wikipedia claims that there may be more American bison skeletons in museums around the world than remain in the wild today. This is because along with being nearly extinct from hunting, they were also extensively hunted for their hides, bones, and horns which were used in various ways by humans.
The American bison have been reintroduced to a few areas in the United States where they are now considered to be an endangered species. The Yellowstone Park Bison Herd is the largest public bison herd in the country with about 4,900 animals. There are also several private herds, including the National Bison Range herd in Montana and the Wind Cave National Park herd in South Dakota.
My Personal Invitation To You
I personally invite you to begin your journey as a fine art collector. I will work with you every step of the way from the selection of a style and size of one of my Bison wildlife photographs to the tracking and delivery of your print.
The end result will be photographic artwork that will add beauty to your home or office and become a cherished possession.
If you have any questions about the process, see my Q and A page or drop me a note on my Contact page.
Fine Art Print and Wall Art Options
My Bison wildlife photographs are offered in the following styles:
- Lumachrome® HD Trulife® Acrylic Prints
- Exhibit Mounted Metal Prints
- Fuji Crystal Archive Paper Prints
Please see my Print Options page for complete details on these museum quality prints. For illustrations in different rooms, please see my How To Choose page.
Need something different? Please contact me with the details of your request.