National Bison Month takes place every July, and we can’t think of a more worthy natural roamer to honor during an entire month. These majestic mammals have been around for centuries and are celebrated throughout the United States out of respect for being such peaceful animals. We want to go full bison this month and embrace their unique appearance, calming personalities, and utterly cute shapes. Get ready to learn more about them and why we should all try and be more like bison.
History of National Bison Month
Africa might be known for its buffalos and wildebeest, but the United States has the gentle, furry giants known as bison. Two living bison species are left: American bison and the lesser-known European bison. After seeing skins and drawings shown to him by the Nipissing First Nation members, the French explorer, Samuel de Champlain, used the term buffalo to describe the bison he observed in 1616. A few years later, in 1625, ‘buffalo’ first appeared in the English language in North America when it was applied to an American mammal.
The term ‘buffalo’ derives from the French word, ‘boeuf,’ which was given to bison by French fur trappers working in the United States. Later on, bison was first used in 1774 and to this day is still used to refer to this species.
You may be wondering where these gentle giants roam and go about their daily lives. The answer is all over the place. In the U.S., bison can be found in river valleys and on prairies and plains, similar to the African buffalo. Other typical habitats also include but are not limited to open or semi-open grasslands and sagebrush, where the lands can become quite arid. They also find great pleasure in grazing in hilly and mountainous areas with gentle slopes.
The American bison was named the country’s national mammal back in 2016, and since then, the month of July has been dubbed National Bison Month. The day especially celebrates the comeback of this majestic animal as there was a time in which it very nearly became extinct.
National Bison Month timeline
The word ‘buffalo’ is first recorded in English to refer to large, cow-like mammals.
‘Bison’ is first recorded to refer to these mammals and remains the correct scientific name to this day.
The bison population in the U.S. reaches an all-time low, with 541 living animals left.
The Inter-Tribal Bison Council is formed to help conserve these animals.
The United States donates bison calves from South Dakota and Colorado to the Mexican government for farming and breeding purposes.
National Bison Month FAQs
Are bison and buffalo the same?
Even though the terms are frequently used interchangeably, buffalo and bison are distinct animals. The Cape buffalo and water buffalo are native to Africa and Asia. North America and Europe are home to bison. Both bison and buffalo are members of the Bovidae family, but they are not related.
What predators hunt bison?
Although adult bison have few natural predators due to their incredible size, wolves, mountain lions, and bears still seek out and attack young bison. Older and fragile bison also easily fall victim to predators.
What is the status of bison in 2022?
Thanks to years of conservation efforts, the bison population is now stable and no longer endangered. Approximately 30,000 bison live in conservation-focused herds across North America today.
National Bison Month Activities
Watch a Discovery Channel special on bison
Today, most people grew up watching wildlife specials on television, especially on channels like Discovery and Animal Planet. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate National Bison Month than gathering your whole family and finding a nature documentary on bison to watch. If you can’t find something on your local channels, try sourcing some David Attenborough specials where he is sure to have featured some authentically Northern American wildlife, like the bison.
Change your profile picture to a bison
Changing your profile picture on one of your social media platforms seems like a small thing to do to create awareness or bring attention to a cause. Still, when it’s done intelligently, along with links to valuable stats and blogs in your bio, it can serve to educate some people on these animals and the incredible history behind their near extinction. And it’s fun to have this furry giant as your profile picture; it’s undoubtedly a conversation starter.
Donate to an organization
There are hundreds, even thousands of wildlife conservation organizations in the United States. Find one or two that serve bison and find out what they need to keep these animals from extinction. There might be some beneficial things that national parks can do to keep these animals safe and happy. And if you want to, find out if you can volunteer at a national park, where you can learn even more about all the different kinds of animals there are in the country.
5 Fun Facts About Bison
They are built for winter
Their hump is composed of muscle supported by long vertebrae, which allows them to use their heads when plowing through snow.
They are born a different color
Bison calves are called ‘red dogs’ as they are red or orange in color when they are born.
Bison can outrun most mammals
They may be big, but they are also surprisingly fast, reaching speeds of up to 35 miles per hour.
A president saved them from extinction
Teddy Roosevelt helped save bison from extinction after he traveled to the Dakota territory to spend time hunting the animal.
Bison know how to communicate
Bison are known to have poor eyesight, but they have excellent senses of smell and hearing and are great communicators.
Why We Love National Bison Month
Bison have been around for ages
It is difficult to imagine some landscapes in the United States without these impressive mammals taking up some decent real estate. These giants have such a special place in the country's history and the native American cultures, and for a good reason. They are fiercely protective yet calm animals that will do anything to protect their herds and their calves. They are American treasures.
They have survived extinction
Former U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt helped make this possible. Still, whole communities and national parks people put in the work to protect these iconic animals. Not many species can outlast extinction, but these bison have managed to find a way, with a bit of help from the people, and continue to grow stronger and add to the visual splendor of the northern American wildlife.
There’s always room for more wildlife awareness
Since bison no longer appear on endangered species lists, the focus can be shifted to those animals that still need assistance and extra protection from the government and national parks. When we celebrate these mammals during National Bison Month, we can’t help but bring awareness to the other species in nature that may need the help and exposure that bison got years ago, which helped keep them alive.
National Bison Month dates