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Bison

The Scoop

Symbol of the American Frontier

Bison once roamed across much of North America. Today bison are extinct throughout most of their former range, except for a few national parks and other small wildlife areas. They are the heaviest land animals in North America. They have a shaggy dark brown mane, humped shoulders and short legs that are covered with hair. Bison have a long tail with a furry end called a tuft, and their curved, sharp horns may grow to be two feet long. They have poor eyesight, but have acute hearing and an excellent sense of smell. In fact, a bison can smell an animal that is miles  away. Their coat is extremely thick in order to keep them warm in winter. In the summer months they shed their coats to keep cool.

The Facts

  • Genus/Species: Bison bison.
  • Location: National Parks, ranches and preserves in North America.

Bison are huge. They are tall as a grown man- around 6 feet-   and weigh as much as an average sized car- around a ton.  Bison feed mainly on grass, plants and sometimes berries. Finding food in the winter isn't a problem for the bison. They swing their large heads from side to side and push the snow away in order to find grass. They bring up their food after swallowing it, and chew it as cud before final digestion.

The bison, symbol of the American frontier, was nearly destroyed due to over-hunting by the settlers of the 19th century. Conservation efforts saved the bison from the brink of extinction. The bison was declared the National Mammal in the US in 2016. Many of the remaining bison are preserved in National Parks.

 

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