An American bison bull

American bison

American bison are the largest land mammals in North America. Massive herds once roamed far and wide across the grasslands and savannas of north America, from Alaska all the way down to Mexico. Nowadays, herds are largely restricted to reserves and parks. Despite the bison's poor eyesight, danger is still detected well in advance, because they have excellent senses of hearing and smell. However, the formidable size and defences of the adults also keep them very safe. Bison calves are capable of walking and even running hours after being born.

Did you know?
American bison are the largest land mammals in North America.

Scientific name: Bison bison

Rank: Species

Common names:

American buffalo

Watch video clips from past programmes (6 clips)

In order to see this content you need to have an up-to-date version of Flash installed and Javascript turned on.

View all 6 video clips

Distribution

The American bison can be found in a number of locations including: North America. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.

Habitats

The following habitats are found across the American bison distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.

Temperate grassland Temperate grassland
Temperate grasslands include the prairies of North America, the steppes of Russia and the pampas of Argentina. Summers here are mild to hot and the winters can sometimes be very cold – for instance, blizzards can blanket the great plains of the United States.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

Conservation Status

Near Threatened

  1. EX - Extinct
  2. EW
  3. CR - Threatened
  4. EN - Threatened
  5. VU - Threatened
  6. NT
  7. LC - Least concern

Population trend: Stable

Year assessed: 2008

Classified by: IUCN 3.1

BBC News about American bison

  • Farmed bison herd set to expand Scotland's first commercial herd of American bison is going into production, with the first two beasts from a farm near Stonehaven being culled.

Video collections

Take a trip through the natural world with our themed collections of video clips from the natural history archive.

Elsewhere on the BBC