The American Bison is the state animal of Kansas. The American bison is a symbol of freedom and the United States. The Bison can be found printed on the back of some nickels. To the Native Americans the Bison was also a symbol. It provided food, tools, and anything else you could think of. The Bison meant so much to the natives that they made dances to praise the bison and what it gave them.
The American Bison is the heaviest land animal in North America. They grow up to 6ft tall at the shoulder and weigh up to a ton. The males are generally bigger than the females. The bison is very fast for how big it is. The American bison can run up to 35 mph. The habitat of the Bison is in grasslands such as the Great Plains. However now they exist in large numbers in reserves and parks.
The history of the American Bison Is about a 300 year story starting with the Europeans settling in the united states. The Europeans that settled impacted the environment by plowing and farming the land that the bison lived off of. They also brought cattle and the diseases spread to the bison; there was grazing competition with cattle and feral horses as well. As people started moving west the settlers pushed the bison out of states. In the 1840s the bison west of the rocky mountains disappear. With the building of the railroads bison were killed to feed the workers. By the 1870s 2 million bison were killed, and by 1872 it was estimated that 5000 bison were killed every day. The killing continued until the 1900s when laws were passed to prevent killing of bison. In 1902 700 bison were in private herds and 23 bison were in Yellowstone. By 1910 there were 2108 bison in North America, and by 1919 there was an estimated population of 12,521. The population of bison continues to rise today.
Image from Wikimedia Commons
The American bison was an iconic symbol to the Native Americans. This animal had many ceremonial dances made to honor the big beast. The natives hunted the big animal and used every part of it. Unlike the natives the buffalo hunters only took the high priced furs and tongue, and left the body to rot in on the prairie. The natives followed the bison and were easily able to travel because of their light weight tipis.
Today the population is recovering due to conservation and hunting laws. This great beast is loved by many and is fun to watch. If the bison had been hunted to extinction our nation would have lost a symbol of the great plains. Hopefully in the next years the population of bison will go up and they will be able to roam on the plains again.