North America’s largest mammal, the American bison, is an enduring symbol of the Great Plains. Bison once ranged from Canada to New Mexico and from Nevada to the Appalachian Mountains. By 1889, their populations were reduced from 30 to 60 million animals to fewer than 1000. Bison were pushed to the brink of extinction by a number of factors, including over hunting by hide hunters, trains, competition with cattle and horses, and disease.
Bison survived near extinction with the help of prescient Native Americans and early conservationists who worked to protect the species through effective federal wildlife management policy.
In 2016, President Obama signed a law, making bison the country’s first national mammal. Today, bison are considered a conservation success story. More than 500,000 bison now live on the Great Plains in protected herds that range on national, state, local, and private lands.
This video is from our public media partners at NETNebraska.