Fun 15 Facts About National Mammal: The American Bison

Bison are the largest mammal in North America. Male bison (called bulls) weigh up to 2,000 pounds and stand 6 feet tall, while females (called cows) weigh up to 1,000 pounds and reach a height of 4-5 feet. Bison calves weigh 30-70 pounds at birth

Since the late 19th century, Interior has been the primary national conservation steward of the bison. Public lands managed by Interior support 17 bison herds—or approximately 10,000 bison—in 12 states, including Alaska. This is about one-third of all wild bison in North America

What’s the difference between bison and buffalo? While bison and buffalo are used interchangeably, in North America the scientific name is bison. Actually, it’s Bison bison bison (genus: Bison, species: bison, subspecies: bison or athabascae), but only saying it once is fine. Historians believe the term “buffalo” grew from the French word for beef, “boeuf.”

4.Yellowstone National Park is the only place in the U.S. where bison have continuously lived since prehistoric times. What makes Yellowstone’s bison so special is that they’re the descendants of early bison that roamed our country’s grasslands. In 2021, Yellowstone’s bison population was estimated at 5,450—making it the largest bison population on public lands

What’s a “red dog”? It’s a baby bison. Bison calves tend to be born from late March through May and are orange-red in color, earning them the nickname “red dogs.” After a few months, their hair starts to change to dark brown and their characteristic shoulder hump and horns begin to grow

You can judge a bison’s mood by its tail.  When it hangs down and switches naturally, the bison is usually calm. If the tail is standing straight up, watch out! It may be ready to charge

12. Bison can live up to 20 years old. The average  lifespan for a bison is 10–20 years, but some live to be older. Cows  begin breeding at the age of two and only have one baby at a time. For  males, the prime breeding age is six to 10 years. Learn how Interior works to ensure genetic diversity and long-term viability of bison.