• Wind Cave National Park - Two Worlds

    Wind Cave

    National Park South Dakota

Bison (Buffalo)

Bison (Buffalo) - Bison bison
Bison (Buffalo) - Bison bison
Click picture for more information
NPS Photo by Pete Bromley
 

Class

Mammalia
Order Artiodactyla (same as deer, sheep, pronghorn)
Family Bovidae (true horns, not branched, on both sexes, cattle, sheep, goat, musk ox)
Genus Bison
Species bison
Subspecies athabascae (woods)
bison (plains)
Name/
History
Late 1800s bison almost became extinct. They were saved by the American Bison Society. Often called buffalo by early scientists who thought they were related to the Africa/Asian water buffaloes. French explorers also called the animals "les boeff" - the cattle.
Size
Weight (lbs)

Male
2000

Female
1000

Calf
30-70

Height (ft)

5.5-6

4.5-5.5

2.5
Rut June-September (one bull forms a temporary "tending bond" with one cow at a time).
Gestation 9.5 months
Birth April -June (reddish, brown fur, no conspicuous hump).
# young Usually 1.
Age 12-15 years
Habitat/
Range

At one time bison roamed North America from Alaska to northern Mexico, western California to western New York.

Food Grasses, browse
Predators Occasionally grizzly, humans, extinct prairie wolf.
Disease Brucellosis, tuberculosis
Communication

Grunts/snorts between cow-calf, roar by bulls during rut

Behavior/
Characteristics

Generally cow/calves in herd together, bulls alone or in small bull herd except during the rut.

Did You Know?

fire on the prairie

Fire is an important factor in protecting the prairie. Historically, fires burned across the prairie every 4 to 7 years. Fires burn the small trees that would otherwise march across the prairie and turn the grasslands to forest.