Image 5 of 43

American Bison or Plains Buffalo (White)

The American bison, also commonly known as the American buffalo, is a North American species of bison that once roamed the grasslands of North America in massive herds. The bison was the main source of meat for the American Indians. The Indians depended on the bison for food, clothing, and shelter. The Plains Buffalo of the Mid-West were the most numerous. The Plains Buffalo were immortalized when the Buffalo Nickel was minted in 1913. A bison has a shaggy, long, dark brown winter coat, and a lighter weight, lighter brown summer coat. The male bison are slightly larger than the female. A full grown bull may stand 6' tall at the shoulder and weigh from 1,800-2,900 pounds. The average lifespan of a bison is 15-20 years. The young are chestnut in color, but take on their adult colors at approximately 6 months old. Bison are now raised for meat and hides. The majority of bison in the world are being raised for human consumption. Bison meat is lower in fat and cholesterol than beef, a fact which has led to the development of beefalo, a fertile crossbreed of bison and domestic cattle. Bison are found in both publicly and privately held herds. Custer State Park in South Dakota is home to 1,500 bison, one of the largest publicly held herds in the world. White buffalo are extremely rare and are considered to be sacred signs in several Native American religions, and thus have great spiritual importance in those cultures.