16 Buffalo Facts
1. National Symbol
The famous Buffalo became the American national mammal with the signed National Buffalo Legacy Act of 2016. The buffalo is now an official symbol of the United States, and just like the bald eagle, it has been one of the greatest success stories in conservation.
2. Pre-Historic Origins
Origins of the buffalo stem back to pre-historic times with the Bison latifrons (an extinct species of bison) living during the Pleistocene epoch.
3. Numbered in the Millions
An estimated 20 to 30 million bison once roamed the North America continent, extending into the forests of Alaska as well as the grasslands of Mexico.
4. Faced Extinction
After the civil war as settlers moved west, the animal habitat was destroyed as the landscape changed rapidly. Later in the 19th century, the population was reduced to just over one thousand remaining buffalo and faced near extinction.
5. Yellowstone National Park Saved the Bison
In 1872, at Yellowstone National Park, the U.S. Department of Interior stopped the complete disappearance of the species. Since the late 19th century, the Department of the Interior has been the primary national conservation steward of the bison.
6. Largest Animal in North America
At birth, the calves weigh between 30-70 pounds. The bulls are known to weigh up to 2,000 pounds and as high as 6 feet when fully grown. The cows are on average 1,000 pounds and 5 feet tall. They are massive, majestic and amazing in size and beauty.
7. History of Native Americans
The bison's history is intertwined with the early plains tribes. The bison were an integral part of the native culture and served as one of the main sources of food. While tribes hunted buffalo for meat and byproducts (horns, furs, bones, etc.) they lived in harmony, securing its existence to serve more generations.
8. Tribal Natural Habitats
Since 1992, the Inter Tribal Buffalo Council has worked hard to protect the national animal by transferring them from national parks to their natural habitats in tribal lands.
9. Custer State Park
Custer State Park has given the buffalo a chance to reproduce and replenish their generations for years. The park is famous for its annual buffalo roundup. The herds at Custer and at Badlands National Park are the two major publicly owned bison herds in South Dakota.
10. South Dakota one of 12 States Selected
South Dakota is one of the 12 states that has been selected to rear bison. It currently cares for 10,000 buffalos in 17 herds. Custer State Park in South Dakota is home to 1,500 bison, one of the largest publicly held herds in the world.
11. Difference between Bison and Buffalo
Although the words are used interchangeably, bison remains the scientific name. It is derived from the name of the species while ‘buffalo’ is believed to be derived from the French word for beef, "bœuf". Buffalo became the most common word used among the population while Bison remained the official yet less used word to refer to the American plain’s largest animal.
12. They say, the Tail Talks
Experts say that you can read the mood of the animal by watching its tail. The knowledge on buffalo characteristics will help protect you from danger when it’s impending. For example, if the tail is hanging down and swinging naturally, it is calm and approachable. However, if it is raised straight up, take caution because they are about to charge.
13. Half a Million Livestock
Of the over half a million bison available across the country today, only about 30,000 are managed by nature conservancy organizations. The rest of the bison are raised as livestock in ranches.
14. Popularity and Population Increases
The popularity of the animals has increased immensely over the few years. The rare buffalo qualities make them one of the most loved animals in all of America. Approximately a half a million bison live across North America today.
15. Rugs Carry History
Buffalo fur rugs have grown more popular since the highlight of the animal as a national symbol. More and more Americans are appreciating their beauty and sales grow steadily year after year. Buffalo rugs while rare can be purchased at a reasonable price and carry significant cultural meaning.
16. Treasured Animal
Our national animal represents both the past and future and has become one of the most loved American animals.