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Plains Bison

Overview

  • Status
    Near Threatened
  • Population
    20,504
  • Scientific Name
    Bison bison bison
  • Weight
    701 to 2,000 pounds
  • Length
    7-12 ft.
  • Habitats
    Grasslands

Symbols of strength and determination, bison are Ice Age survivors. Clearing away snow and brush with their massive heads, they weigh up to 2,000 pounds and can run up to 40 miles per hour. Once numbering 30-60 million in North America, their numbers were decimated in a decade as expansion pressed westward. No other species on Earth has declined so quickly. For bison to grow in number, they need room to roam vast grasslands.

Meet the Bison: Facts About America's Iconic Species

Bison are the largest native grazers of America’s Northern Great Plains. Take a look at why bison are unique to our landscape and what WWF is doing to help.

big bison sitting

Why They Matter

  • Historically bison were the dominant grazer on the Northern Great Plains landscape. This dominance shaped the landscape by affecting the pattern and structure of the grasses and vegetation that grew, and it was this vegetation pattern that allowed animals to flourish.

Threats

  • Population 20,504
  • Extinction Risk Near Threatened
    1. EX
      Extinct

      No reasonable doubt that the last individual has died

    2. EW
      Extinct in the Wild

      Known only to survive in cultivation, in captivity or as a naturalised population

    3. CR
      Critically Endangered

      Facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the Wild

    4. EN
      Endangered

      Facing a high risk of extinction in the Wild

    5. VU
      Vulnerable

      Facing a high risk of extinction in the Wild

    6. NT
      Near Threatened

      Likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future

    7. LC
      Least Concern

      Does not qualify for Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable, or Near Threatened

Plains Bison

What WWF Is Doing

Plains Bison

WWF works to provide bison freedom to roam because we know they can once again assume their keystone role in the region. We collaborate with native tribes to establish and grow herds on sacred lands and work with the American Prairie Reserve to bring bison to the northern Montana prairie.

Experts

Related Species

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