The American Bison
These bison once roamed the grasslands of North America in massive herds; their range roughly formed a triangle between the Great Bear Lake in Canada's far northwest, reaching south to the Mexican states of Durango, and east along Appalachian Mountains.
Bison can reach up to 6 feet 6 inches (2 m) tall, 10 feet (3 m) long, and weigh 900 to 2,200 pounds (410 to 1,000 kg) The American Bison has 15 ribs, while the European bison has 14. The American bison has four lumbar vertebrae, while the European has five.
Their daily schedule involves 2 hour periods of grazing, resting and cud chewing, then moving to a new location to graze again. Female bison live in maternal herds which include other females and their offspring. Male offspring leave their maternal herd when around three years old and will either live alone or join other males in bachelor herds. Male and female herds do not mingle until the breeding season.
Bison mate in August and September; gestation is 285 days. Bison have a life expectancy of approx. 15 years in the wild and up to 25 years in captivity.
There are approximately 500,000 bison in captive commercial populations grazing on about 4,000 privately owned ranches. The majority of bison in the world are being raised for human consumption. Bison meat is lower in fat and cholesterol than beef.
We saw these bison in California, grazing in a park as we came upon them quite unexpectedly.
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