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Bison history continued

Endangered animal

An American settler family's houseAt first the Europeans also hunted the bison for food. Then they realised they could make money by selling bison meat and the hides (skins) for clothes and rugs.

They also began to hunt for sport. Railways were built and bison were hunted because they got in the way of the tracks that were being laid across the country.

The bison is an endangered animalBy 1889 less than 1,000 bison were left and the herds were small. The animals were living on land now owned by farmers (ranchers) and in the wild.

The bison became an endangered animal.

Saving the bison

Many people then worked to save the bison from becoming extinct:

  • In 1900 the InterTribal Bison Cooperative was formed by about 28 Native American Tribes. Over time they built a herd of more than 3,500 bison on Indian lands.
  • In 1905 the Bronx Zoo helped form the American Bison Society, with Theodore Roosevelt as honorary president. The zoo worked with ranchers to reintroduce herds in several places, including South Dakota and Montana.
  • The government then set up several wildlife reserves and bison from several private herds were moved onto them.
  • In 1907 bison from Montana were taken to Elk Island National Park in Canada.
  • The National Bison Association was formed in 1995, to educate people about the bison, and help to develop the bison industry.
  • In 2005 the American Prairie Foundation set up a herd in Montana.
  • The Bison Specialist Group has members in Mexico, US and Canada and is part of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). The group is developing a strategy (plan) for bison conservation including how to manage bison herds.

The bison herd in Yellowstone National Park is the oldest herd that has lived in one place. Wood Buffalo National Park in Montana has two original herds that have survived in the wild, and there was an isolated herd on Antelope Island in Utah.

Bison history Part 3 >>