How Many Bison Are In The United States Today?

Across all of the public lands in the United States, there are about 15,000 different species of animals. The Nature Conservancy’s private herds are among those that house the last bison populations.

Western bison

The bison species known as the American bison (Bison bison) is indigenous to North America. It is one of two living species of bison, along with the European bison, and is referred to informally at times as a “buffalo” (a different lineage of bovine). The great bison belt, a region of fertile grassland that stretched from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico, east to the Atlantic Seaboard (near the Atlantic tidewater in some areas), as far north as New York, south to Georgia, and, according to some sources, even further south to Florida, is described as its historical range by 9000 BC. Sightings in North Carolina near Buffalo Ford on the Catawba River as late as 1750 are also recorded for this region. The animal, which once roamed in large herds, was on the verge of extinction due to a combination of commercial hunting, slaughter, and the introduction of bovine illnesses from domestic cattle in the 19th century. The species had around 60 million individuals in the late 18th century, but by 1889 there were just 541 left. Mid-20th century expansion of recovery efforts led to a rebound of about 31,000 wild bison as of March 2019. The population was mainly concentrated in a few national parks and reserves for a long time. The species has been repeatedly reintroduced and is currently found in the wild freely roaming in a number of areas throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. It has also been brought to Yakutia in Russia.

The plains bison (B. b. bison), which is smaller and has a more rounded hump, and the wood bison (B. b. athabascae), which is the bigger of the two and has a higher, squarer hump, have both been classified as ecotypes. A third subspecies of the plains bison, the southern plains (B. b. bison) and the northern plains (B. b. montanae), have also been proposed. This, however, is typically not encouraged. Only the Asian gaur is larger than the wood bison in terms of size among extant wild bovid species. The bison is the largest, longest, and second-tallest living terrestrial animal in North America, behind the moose.

By the Numbers: Bison

According to the 2017 USDA census, there are 183,780 bison living on private ranches and farms in the United States.

According to the 2017 USDA census, there are 1,775 private ranches and farms in the United States that raise bison.

According to the 2016 Canadian Census of Ag, the size of the private bison herd in Canada is 119,314.

Less than 1,000: Estimated number of bison prior to 1900 before attempts were made to maintain and recover the species.

The estimated number of bison harvested in the United States and Canada in 2020 is 69,000. (In contrast, US Beef kills around 125,000 animals per day.)

63,056: Federal inspection of the 2020 U.S. bison harvest. The overall number of bison harvested in the United States is increased by 15% when the slaughter is state-inspected.

There is a significant comeback of American bison.

Nearly 30 million American bison (Bison bison) inhabited the Great Plains between the Rocky Mountains in the West and the Appalachian Mountains in the East not too long ago—roughly 150 years ago. However, as the number of white settlers in the area increased dramatically in the late 19th century, hunters drastically reduced the bison population by killing about 5,000 of the animals per day in 1871 and 1872. As cities, farms, and cattle pastures were built in the shadow of bison habitat, the habitat for these animals progressively deteriorated. The rest was taken care of by novel diseases.

By 1889, there were almost no free-ranging bison left. A century of bison-free Great Plains began with this population decline of more than 99.9%. Indigenous cultures, grasslands, other animal species, and natural habitats all suffered. Early in the 20th century, a small group of herds under federal management saved the bison from extinction. The Department of the Interior is currently the primary conservation custodian for North American Plains bison on 4.6 million acres of National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Land Management sites in 12 states, with around 11,000 Plains bison in 19 herds.

Exactly where to Find Bison

Bison are now found in almost every state in the United States, but Yellowstone National Park is the best spot to witness wild herds. Over time, most bison have mated with cattle, but the ones in Yellowstone are still entirely purebred.

The only area where bison have lived continuously since prehistoric times is Yellowstone, and their herd, which numbers close to 5,000, is the greatest collection of free-range bison.

The National Bison Range in Moiese, Montana; Catalina Island near Los Angeles, California; Land Between the Lakes Elk and Bison Prairie in Golden Pond, Kentucky; Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, North Dakota; and Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California are just a few of the protected locations in the USA where you can find bison.

Bison are now found in almost every state in the United States, but Yellowstone National Park is the best spot to witness wild herds.

In the US in 2021, how many bison are there?

There is no list of threatened or endangered species that includes bison. In North America, there are 30,000 bison living in private and public herds that are maintained for conservation. Though about 400,000 bison are raised as livestock, wild bison are uncommon.

In the US in 2022, how many bison are there?

The NPS advised culling 600–900 bison for the winter of 2021–2022, bringing the population down to 4,300–4,700 animals at the end of the season and 5,200–5,700 animals following calving. Only in areas of the northern park where animals from the central and northern herds mix should removals take place. Monitoring migrations will help managers concentrate removal efforts on the northern herd. Up to 200 extra animals could be harvested or trapped in late winter if early removal targets are accomplished and the number of bison leaving the park exceeds what can be tolerated.

Which state in the US has the most bison?

Custer State Park in South Dakota is well-known for its annual roundup of buffalo. There are thousands of bison held by tribes and privately in South Dakota, but the two major publicly owned herds are there and at Badlands National Park. In fact, according to the most recent U.S. Census of Agriculture, which was finished in 2012, South Dakota has more bison than any other state. The top five states for bison, along with the number of bison in each, are listed below.

How many remaining plains bison exist?

The continual loss of genetic variation is a result of the tiny herd size within the about 20,000 plains bison managed as wildlife in North America. As a result, the long-term conservation of current variety is in jeopardy. The survival of the population has also been impacted by early 20th-century initiatives to cross-breed bison and cattle in an effort to create livestock that is more robust. Only Yellowstone National Park and Elk Island National Park in Canada are currently thought to have public bison herds that do not currently exhibit signs of interbreeding with cattle. To protect these priceless genetics in the event that a catastrophic event (such as a disease outbreak) threatens these source herds, conservation organizations have been working hard to create replacement herds abroad.

Are bison regaining popularity?

The National Bison Association claims that the Great American Bison is making a return as a result of an innovative partnership.

We work with public agencies, public herd managers, conservation groups, and we’re all together restoring the species back to its native landscape here in North America. “We work very closely with tribal entities, who are also restoring bison to their tribal lands for commercial and cultural reasons, as well as conservationists,” said Jim Matheson.

Because they were never tamed, bison are still naturally regenerators. Because of this, their meat had little to no fat, making them a protein that was rich in nutrients.

In the late 19th century, there were about 30 million bison, but they were nearly all killed to extinction. There are currently over 400,000 head in the United States.

The largest bison ever recorded is what?

It’s National Bison Day on November 6th! This day honors the American bison, also referred to as the buffalo or the bison (Bison bison). Historically, vast herds of this migratory species traversed the plains of North America. Before the middle of the 1800s, an estimated 30 to 60 million bison may have roamed North America. National parks and preserves now still have herds of bison that are allowed to graze freely.

To find out all about American bison, scroll down:

1. Male bison can reach heights of over 6 feet and lengths of over 11 feet.

Buffalo typically weigh between 701 and 2,205 pounds on average, but the heaviest bison ever weighed more than 3,800 pounds!

2. A wild bison lives for approximately 25 years.

Bison kept in captivity may live longer than wild bison, which typically reach the age of 25. A bull (male) bison in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park was 30 years old when it became the oldest bison ever documented.

3. Horses can’t run as quickly as bison

Even though they are enormous, bison are quite athletic! They are capable of leaping over 6 feet and running at speeds close to 35 mph.

4. Horns on bison grow on both sexes.

Although both men and females develop horns, these horns can be used to distinguish between the sexes. When compared to a bull’s, the horn on a cow (female) will be more C-shaped and slender. A bison mother and her calf are visible above.

5. Bison can use their heads to “plow” snow

To make moving around and grazing simpler when the snowfall becomes too great, bison will move snow with their heads. Yellowstone National Park is a frequent location for this type of conduct!

6. Until they are a few months old, baby bison are an orange-red tint.

Cows may only have one calf at a time and start reproducing at the age of two. Do not be misled by the name “baby”; newborn bison calves can weigh up to 70 pounds!

7. The only area in North America where bison have resided continuously since prehistoric times is Yellowstone National Park (ID, MT, & WY).

In Yellowstone, where the population ranges from 2,300 to over 5,500, the largest bison herd in the nation is found on public land. The accompanying graphic contrasts the Interagency Bison Control Plan management zones with the seasonal distribution of Yellowstone bison.

8. Bison have poor vision.

Buffalo have excellent hearing abilities despite their poor vision. Bulls can be heard bellowing across great distances during mating season, and cows and calves communicate with pig-like grunts.

9. The American bison serves as the nation’s national mammal.

President Obama signed the National Bison Legacy Act into law in 2016, designating the American bison the country’s official national mammal after receiving years of public support.

Our woolly mascot, Buddy Bison, who stands in for our Youth and Family Programs, exhorts young people all around the nation to “discover outdoors, the parks are yours!”

Who in the US has the biggest herd of bison?

In the Lakota creation myth, creatures in both human and buffalo form emerged from the Wind Cave in South Dakota’s Black Hills. In this viewpoint, there is no distinction between people and buffalo.

According to Wizipan Little Elk, CEO of the Rosebud Economic Development Corporation (REDCO), the economic arm of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, “We’re Lakota people and that means we’re buffalo people.” “We need to take care of them because they’ve always taken care of us,”

And the Rosebud Sioux tribe has agreed to provide a new plains bison herd with 28,000 acres of native grassland to achieve just that. The Wolakota Buffalo Range will house 1,500 bison, making it the largest bison herd owned and maintained by Native Americans in North America.

With assistance from Tribal Land Enterprise, the Rosebud Sioux Tribes land management corporation, and the U.S. Department of the Interior, REDCO and WWF’s partnership is advancing the project. The Department of the Interior will move hundreds of bison from federally controlled herds to the newly formed area over the course of the next five years. The unprecedented undertaking will result in a stunning 7% nationwide increase in the total number of bison controlled by Native Americans.

Wizipan Little Elk stated, “We take pride in it. “that we will be able to manage and own the biggest native buffalo herd. We can demonstrate that socially conscious, multifaceted businesses may succeed and have a variety of beneficial local and international effects.”