American bison is a truly magnificent animal. It is the largest land
mammal in North America since the end of the Ice Age. Estimates of
the pre-European herd size vary from 30,000,000 to 70,000,000
animals and they ranged over most of North America.
There are three subspecies of bison:
The Plains bison
Where bison and
Native Americans lived together,
provided much more than food.
Unregulated killing of bison led to the many millions of animals
being reduced to no more than 1,500 individuals in the late
Legal protection of the bison in
Yellowstone Park, the establishment
of preserves like the
National Bison Refuge in Montana,
along with individuals raising bison on their own land, have helped
restore the bison to over 350,000 animals. Current estimates place
the size of the U.S. herd at 270,000 animals, with most of the
production occurring on private ranches.