Average lifespan in the wild: 12 to 20 years
Size: Head and body, 7 to 11.5 ft (2.1 to 3.5 m); Tail 19.75 to 23.5 in (50 to 60 cm)
Weight: 930 to 2,200 lbs (422 to 998 kg)
Did you know? The bison’s thick, shaggy coat is so well insulated that snow can settle on its back without melting.

Size relative to a 6-ft (2-m) man:

Bison, symbolic animals of the Great Plains, are often mistakenly called buffaloes. By any name, they are formidable beasts and the heaviest land animals in North America.

Bison stand some 5 to 6.5 feet (1.5 to 2 meters) tall at the shoulder, and can tip the scales at over a ton (907 kilograms). Despite their massive size, bison are quick on their feet. When the need arises they can run at speeds up to 40 miles (65 kilometers) an hour. They sport curved, sharp horns that may grow to be two feet (61 centimeters) long.

These large grazers feed on plains grasses, herbs, shrubs, and twigs. They regurgitate their food and chew it as cud before final digestion.

Females (cows) and adult males (bulls) generally live in small, separate bands and come together in very large herds during the summer mating season. Males battle for mating primacy, but such contests rarely turn dangerous. Females give birth to one calf after a nine-month pregnancy.

Bison once covered the Great Plains and much of North America, and were critically important to Plains Indian societies. During the 19th century, settlers killed some 50 million bison for food, sport, and to deprive Native Americans of their most important natural asset. The once enormous herds were reduced to only a few hundred animals. Today, bison numbers have rebounded somewhat, and about 200,000 bison live on preserves and ranches where they are raised for their meat.

NOTE: Buffalo Field Campaign members will hunt to feed non-Vegan volunteers.

 There presence on this page is not an endorsement.


In Defense of the Last Wild Buffalo
Join Buffalo Field Campaign on the Frontlines in Montana

Since January 12, the National Park Service (NPS) has hazed and captured nearly 700 of the country’s last wild buffalo, who were attempting to access critical Winter habitat outside of Yellowstone National Park. These sacred and powerful icons of an untamed land are being forced off their chosen ground, rounded up and crammed into the Stephens Creek Capture Facility inside Yellowstone, suffering unbelievable injuries, stress and panic. Some calves are selected for government quarantine experiments and the rest are escorted to slaughterhouses by none other than the Department of Homeland Security. For the Yellowstone buffalo, the instinct to migrate is punishable by death.

In mid-January, Montana Department of Livestock (MDOL) agents arrived on snowmobiles to harass buffalo within the state’s so-called tolerance zone. They pushed 40 buffalo over a clearly marked area of thin ice on Hebgen Lake, causing 12 to fall into the freezing water. Two drowned before our eyes. The remaining 10 buffalo splashed helplessly as agents sat around and threatened Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) volunteers with arrest if we attempted to help. The agents finally got some rope and proceeded to pull the buffalo out of the frigid pond, one by one.

After being pulled out of the frigid water, the buffalo were visibly weak and shivering, and some were unable to walk or even stand. Many had been in the water for more than three hours.

What’s the justification for this brutal behavior? The MDOL and the NPS defend their actions by citing the Interagency Bison Management Plan, a joint state-federal agreement (not including First Nations) that is supposed to maintain a wild, free-roaming herd of buffalo while protecting Montana’s livestock economy. Yet the latter is the government’s ultimate focus. Yellowstone has become a mega-zoo that engages in the wholesale slaughter of native wildlife in order to appease the livestock industry.

The MDOL and NPS claim that the slaughter is necessary to stop the spread of brucellosis, a European cattle disease that has been in the Yellowstone ecosystem since 1917. But not only has there never been a documented case of wild buffalo transmitting brucellosis to livestock, buffalo are killed without even being tested for brucellosis antibodies. The brucellosis excuse is used to prevent wild buffalo from re-inhabiting their stolen range and impacting ranching profits. The cowboy mafia is getting away with federally funded murder.

To top it off, a state-sponsored buffalo trophy hunt took place from November to February just miles from the NPS-run slaughter. BFC has been in the field documenting the hunt, watching as 40 buffalo have been killed.

BFC fills a critical niche. Our mission is to stand with the wild buffalo, document everything done to them by state and federal agents, and to show people the world over what’s going on. BFC does what no one else has done for the buffalo, but we need the help of all Earth defenders to stop this atrocity. Join BFC on the frontlines, and come to the defense of the last wild buffalo.

For more information, contact Buffalo Field Campaign, POB 957, West Yellowstone, MT 59758; (406) 646-0070; buffalo@wildrockies.org; www.buffalofieldcampaign.org.