A bison scratches his head on a side view car mirror in Yellowstone Park

Yellowstone is the only place in the United States where bison have lived continuously since prehistoric times.

A number of Native American tribes especially revere Yellowstone’s bison as pure descendants of the vast herds that once roamed the grasslands of the United States.

 The largest bison population in the country on public land resides in Yellowstone. It is one of the few herds free of cattle genes. An estimated 20 to 30 million bison once dominated the North American landscape from the Appalachians to the Rockies, from the Gulf Coast to Alaska.

Habitat loss and unregulated shooting reduced the population to just 1,091 by 1889. Today, approximately 500,000 bison live across North America. However, most of these are not pure wild bison, but have been cross-bred with cattle in the past, and are semi-domesticated after being raised as livestock for many generations on ranches. Fewer than 30,000 wild bison are in conservation herds and fewer than 5,000 are unfenced and disease-free.


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