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Bison

Additional Info

  • Order: Artiodactyla
  • Family: Bovidae
  • Subfamily: Bovinae
  • Genus: Bison
  • Species: bison
  • Members of the Family: Antelope, cattle, goats and sheep
  • Conservation Status: Endangered
  • Geographic Range and Habitat: Bison can be found living in grasslands, forests and scrub forests. They were once found roaming throughout most of the United States, but were nearly hunted to extinction. Now they have recovered in smaller geographical areas with large wild herds in western South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana. They are privately raised throughout the United States.
  • Physical Description: Bison are one the largest mammals in North America. They are dark brown, sometimes reddish in color. They have thicker fur covering their head, shoulders and forelegs. A tail approximately 18” long is used to swish flies off their rump. They use their short horns to dig wallows for dirt baths. Males are typically larger than females.
  • Weight: 700 to 2000lbs (311 to 889 kg)
  • Length: 7 to 13 ft (2 to 4 m)
  • Reproduction: Bison breed once per year in June and through September
  • Gestation Period: 285 days
  • Number of Offspring: 1-2
  • Birth Weight: Approximately 40 lbs
  • Time to Weaning: 7-12 months average
  • Age at Sexual or Reproductive Maturity: 2.5 years average
  • Average Lifespan (Wild): 20 years average
  • Average Lifespan (Captivity): 30 years average (40 years is the oldest)
  • Social Habits: Bison are herd animals and capable of forming large groups. Females are highly protective of their young. Males are highly protective of their herd during the breeding season or rut.
  • Behavior: Dominant male bison will gather small groups of females during the breeding season and chase off any rival that tries to interfere with his breeding efforts. Bison calves are born a short distance away from the herd. The herd is a close-knit group. In the face of a predator, mature herd members will surround calves while driving away the predator. Bison make large wallows, or shallow holes, in which they take daily dirt baths.
  • Food Habits: Bison graze on tall and short prairie grasses.
  • Known Predators: Wolves in a pack. Sick or lone bison may fall prey to grizzly bears or cougars. A healthy bison in a herd has few predators in most areas of the United States.
  • To Cite This Page: Stoffel V. 2010. "Bison bison" (On-line), Bearizona. Accessed Month day, year at http://www.bearizona.com
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