The American bison (Bison bison), also commonly known as the American buffalo or simply buffalo, is a North American species of bison. North American bison are primarily grazers and forage primarily in grassland and meadow communities. They were also found from boreal habitats to semi-desert habitats if grazing was suitable. They had the widest natural range of any North American herbivore, from the arid grasslands of Chihuahua State in northern Mexico, through the grasslands of theGreat Plains, to the riparian meadows of interior Alaska.
American Bison are extremely large animals and males are typically slightly larger than females. Both males and females have short curved horns that can grow up to 2 feet (61 cm) long. The horns are black, curving upward and inward and ending in a sharp tip.
American Bison are herbivores and spend their time grazing on the grasses of the North American Prairies. On average, bison ingest 1.6% of their body mass per day of dry vegetation. Bison require water every day as well. summer and fall diets may be broader, including flowering plants, woody plant leaves, and lichens, in addition to grasses and sedges, depending on local availability. Bison excavate snow at foraging sites by sweeping it away using side to side motions of their muzzle.
Their large size and formidable defenses make healthy, adult bison relatively safe from predators, except humans. However elderly, ill or injured adult bison and calves are preyed on by large predators such as mountain lions, brown bears and grey wolves.
Bison are gregarious animals and are arranged in groups according to sex, age, season, and habitat. Grazing takes place during several periods each day and is conducted in loose groups. When bison travel, they form a line. The traveling pattern of bison is determined by the terrain and habitat condition. Bison are good swimmers as well as runners, capable of reaching speeds of 62 km/hr.
A recovery program for wood bison has existed in Canada since the early 1960s where the subspecies was designated as 'Threatened' by the Committee on Endangered Species of Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The Bison Specialist Group (North America) is developing a bison conservation assessment and action plan that will provide support and guidance for policy development and conservation planning and management for public and private sector projects, more information in Bison Specialist Group Website.