When you think of large land mammals living in North America, a moose or maybe even a bear might come to mind. Sure, these species are big, but one animal has them all beat. Standing 6 feet tall and weighing up to 907 pounds, the Plains Bison holds the title of the LARGEST land mammal in North America! What’s even more impressive is that while carrying this much weight they can still run up to 60km an hour. That’s faster than a horse.
Check out this video to see them in action!
DID YOU KNOW…a Plains Bison can jump 6 feet into the air while standing still? Take a jump and see how you compare to these woolly giants!
If a Plains Bison feels threatened, you’ll know about it! They make very loud grunts and snorts to warn the predator to back away. Their massive size makes these threats very intimidating. If the predator doesn’t back off, the herd will group together for protection, making it more difficult for one of them to be picked off. Their need to protect each other is even stronger when it comes to parents and their young. You definitely wouldn’t want to get between an angry mom and her crying baby!
Plains Bison enjoy the open fields and plains of North America. An excellent example of their habitat is the Old Man on His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area in Southwestern Saskatchewan. This area not only has beautiful sunsets and sunrises, it is also provides habitat to a lot of very special animals, like the Pronghorn Antelope, Burrowing Owl, Long-Billed Curlew, Swift Fox and Ferruginous Hawk.
Status: The Plains Bison is considered threatened in North America.
250 years ago the North American prairies were a very different place than they are today. In the past, Plains Bison populations numbered far over a million! Unfortunately without any laws in place to control hunting, Plains Bison populations shrunk smaller and smaller, reaching near extinction by the 1800s. Although conservation efforts have been made to protect the current populations and encourage more population growth, these giants still need a lot of help!
Attempts to repopulate the prairies with Plains Bison are limited mainly because of habitat loss. Plains Bison need lots of land to roam but their territory is disappearing. Expansion of farmland, urban development and the construction of roads restrict their land, forcing the herd farther and farther north. But heading north has its own problems – it increases their risk of starvation. Snow cover becomes thicker and last longer in the north, making it more difficult for them to find enough grass to eat.
Plains Bison need your help! Here’s what you can do:
- Start a Bring Back the Wild Campaign for the Plains Bison. Your support will go towards protecting and caring for these animals, buying hay so they can have enough to eat, and educating kids like you about the Plains Bison and how to protect them.
- Spread the word: Now that you know about the Plains Bison tell your friends and family and encourage them to help protect the environment!