NORTH AMERICAN BUFFALO (Bison bison)
The Arrival of The Buffalo
The Buffalo arrived in North America by a land bridge from Asia to North American continents. Buffalo slowly migrated south as far as Mexico and east to the Atlantic Coast, south to Florida. The most consintrated areas were on the plains from rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River, and from Canada to Texas.
Lewis and Clark wrote in their journals in 1806 that the buffalo darkened the whole plains as they moved in mass through South Dakota’s White River.
The North American Buffalo bull is an immense animal. The bulls can reach a weight of over 2000 lbs and stand about 6 feet high at the shoulders, with a massive head sporting two short horns and a huge hump on their back over their shoulders. The cows aren’t nearly as big as the Bulls. Supprisenly, with their size and small hind quarters, you would think these animals were slow and cumbersome. Actually these animals are extremely fast reaching speeds of up to 30 mph.
The Bigginning of The End
The smaller buffalo herds east of the Mississippi were gone by the 1800’s and the systematic slaughter of the plains herds started about 1830 as people started their westward migration. At this time the chief industry was buffalo hunting. Hunters killed for sport, food, and hides. Killing as many as 250 buffalo a day and leaving the majority to rot. This was done to desimate the herds to make the indians move off their land for settlers moving into the West.
The End of The Vast Buffalo Herds
We were very effective at dessimating the vast herds of Buffalo estimated at around 60 million living breathing animals. The herds North as well as the southern herds had been destroyed by 1883. See what I mean? Didn’t take us long!! In the United States and Canada there were less than 300 wild animals roaming the plains. 300!! What a shame these were the only wild animals left out of the millions and millions of animals destroyed in as short a period in our history of only about 50 years.
1894. Congress woke up and passed a law making buffalo hunting in Yellowstone National Park illegal. Congress appropriated money to purchase 21 buffalo from private herds in 1902 to reintroduce to the Yellowstone National Park. With protection from hunting this herd today has reached 4000 in number.
The Return of The North American Buffalo
Today with many private herds the numbers of buffalo have increased to around 200,000. This is no where near the numbers of the Buffalo herds of the 17 and 1800’s. With this number, the Buffalo herds, are sustainable and insure the North American Buffalo will be with us for our next generation to enjoy.
Thanks for reading my blog about our wonderful North American Buffalo and a little of it’s history. Please leave a comment…………Thanks…..Frank