SciSun: Finding a Home, On the Range   1 comment

Before there were so many people on Earth, there used to be a lot more of many different animals (and actually a lot fewer of some types of animals, but that’s another story). At one time, there were so many American bison (Bison bison) in North America, ranging from Canada to Mexico, from the Appalachian Mountains in the East to the Rocky Mountains (and beyond!) in the West, the total number is estimated at about 60 million – that’s more than the entire population of people who today live in California, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Hawaii combined!

But over time, the number of Bison became less and less. Much of this was because people thought there were so many of them, how could they ever go away? And by bad treatment, and waste, and people changing the natural environment so it was too hard for the bison to live, every year there were fewer and fewer of the animals, but almost no one was concerned. By the 1890’s, there were only about 1,000 bison left and most of these were in private ranches or parks. Only twenty-three truly wild bison remained, living in the remote areas of Yellowstone Park. The giant herds of bison so extreme, it was said, that they seemed to go on and on forever were gone, possibly never to return.

Bison galloping Muybridge

Thanks to the concern and hard work of many scientists, ranchers, and friends-of-bison, today it’s estimated there are about 500,000 living on ranches and parks, so we don’t have to worry about never again seeing this American symbol. But of all bison, only about 20,000 can be considered living wild. Even in protected areas like Yellowstone, life for the wild bison can still be difficult. During particularly harsh winters, some of these bison travel outside the protected Park boundary looking for food and shelter. And, because people are frightened or don’t know better, the bison are caught and held in pens or even worse. Recently, 65 of these Yellowstone-wild-herd were given a second chance, with the opportunity to move to a nearby Indian Reservation where they can roam free and never be bothered again. The American Indian – the Native American – has a traditional connection with the Bison and holds great respect for the animal, in the past often living their daily lives based upon the activities and movement of an American Bison herd. Not the buffalo – that’s actually a different animal living in the Far East and Africa. The American Bison is only a distant relative to the Buffalo. But both are members of the bovine family, the same as milk cows!

Apparently, Bison don't like RV's.

While the ‘Yellowstone 65’ bison still have to make the move to the Montana Tribal Lands, once there the herd will grow and establish themselves in this ‘new’ home. New to them, but just over a hundred years ago, home to millions of their ancestors.

The American Bison has been very important to the history and environment of North America! Read more about them:

Posted March 25, 2012 by ECOVIA eco-adventure® in SciSun

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One response to “SciSun: Finding a Home, On the Range

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  1. How incredible it must have been to see so many bison roaming the land! I like the running bison video you show.

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