National Bison Day: Learn About North America’s Largest Land Animal

by Jennifer Shea

The bison is the largest land animal in North America. This weekend marks a celebration for these massive animals with National Bison Day.

Over the years, the species’ population size drastically decreased. Currently, they are primarily confined to protected areas that are dwarfed by the size of their former habitat, according to Britannica.

Some Happy News for the Species

Still, there is some happy news. Just in time for National Bison Day, 100 of the animals have shown up at the Wolakota Buffalo Range in South Dakota. They will roam the 28,000 acres freely, IFLScience reports. 

The World Wildlife Fund, an endangered species conservation nonprofit, cheered their arrival on its Twitter feed.

During the next five years, the U.S. Department of the Interior plans to relocate hundreds of bison. The DOI will move them from public conservation herds overseen by the National Park Service and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to the Wolakota Buffalo Range. 

Dennis Jorgensen, the Bison Initiative Coordinator for the World Wildlife Fund, told IFLScience that the lack of places to roam presents the greatest threat to the animals.

“Large conservation herds exceeding 1,000 animals are still quite rare,” he said. “There are currently less than 10 conservation herds of this size in North America.” 

Conservationists Launch Bison Days

Meanwhile, conservationists in Colorado are recognizing National Bison Day, too. They’re noting the survival of a herd at the Soapstone Prairie Natural Area, the Fort Collins Coloradoan reported. 

“All of us are incredibly happy with how well the herd has grown, how healthy and strong the animals are and how strong the partnership” is with the city of Fort Collins, said Jennifer Barfield. Barfield is an assistant professor of biomedical sciences at Colorado State University who led the project to restore the animals.

Also, the Laramie Foothills Bison Conservation Herd’s Facebook page is celebrating Bison Days. It’s a collection of talks, tours, and activities that began with a virtual ceremony on Facebook Live Saturday afternoon.

Furthermore, Bison Days will include video footage of the restored herd, songs and a performance by blues musician Cary Morin.