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Buffalo Gifts & Bison Gifts

"Bison" is a Greek word meaning ox-like animals. The American bison is a North American species of bison, also commonly known as the American buffalo. Some consider the term "buffalo" somewhat of a misnomer for this animal, as it is only distantly related to either of the two "true buffalo," the Asian water buffalo and the African buffalo.

Bison Facts

The American bison, also known as the American buffalo, is the more common of the only two extant species of bison. American bison once lived in plains and forests in North America, numbering in millions. Since facing extinction in the 19th century because of the commercial hunting, bison have shrunk dramatically in numbers; they now exist mostly in national parks and reserves. About 30,000 bison are recognized as existing by the IUCN's standards, only around 15,000 of which are considered wild due to their free-range environment.

Bison are normally about 7-12 feet long and usually measure 5-6 feet tall from the shoulder. They weigh 700-2,200 pounds on average, though the heaviest wild bison recorded weighed 2,800 pounds. Male bison are somewhat larger than females, and often weigh considerably more. Their heads and forequarters are the largest part of their body, all of which is covered in a coat of long, brown fur. All bison have relatively short, curved horns that are used for self-defense or in intraspecific fighting, in which male bison engage to assert their dominance.

Bison travel in herds that are divided by sex; female bison tend to form maternal herds that may contain male infants or very old males, and male bison either live alone or join herds of other males after leaving the herd into which they were born at the age of about three. The two sexes almost never interact with each other outside of breeding season, at which time dominant males will each guard a small herd of females that will mate exclusively with him. The order in which their offspring are born is important, because both herds have social hierarchies based on birth order; bison born earlier in the breeding season are more likely to be larger as adults and therefore tend to be dominant.

The wolf is the only natural predator of the bison. Even though wolves may prey on bison, they normally target infants, as fully-grown bison are often difficult to vanquish; in tandem with their great size and strength, bison can jump up to six feet high, run at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour, and can be aggressive when provoked. However, despite their potential for physical dominance over other organisms, bison are herbivores and dedicate a large portion of their time to grazing. Bison are migratory, and constantly move about in search of food. The direction of their travels depend on the season, types of vegetation available, and the availability of water, but the span is typically large. Bison have been recorded as traveling an average of two miles per day.

American bison have historically been a symbol throughout North America. Bison appear on several state flags in the United States, are the official mammal of multiple states, appear on several U.S. coins, and serve as the mascot for several sports teams, universities, and even Ralph Nader's 2008 presidential campaign. Bison also appear on the coat of arms of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and are the official animals of Manitoba, appearing on the province's flag.

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Bison and Buffalo Gifts



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