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Tallgrass Prairie Bison Facts


  • Bison is the correct term for the mammals on the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. According to scientists, true buffalo are confined to Africa and Southeast Asia.

  • Before the settlements of modern civilization, around 30 million bison roamed across North America. By 1890, fewer than 600 plains bison were alive.

  • Bison and cattle are cousins (that is, they are in the same genus, Bos).

  • Bison are the largest native animals on the North American continent.

  • Full-grown bison bulls stand about 6.5 feet at the shoulder and can weigh up to 2,000 pounds.

  • Adult bison consume more than 30 pounds of grass (air-dry weight) in a day.

  • Bison can jump 6 feet vertically. Because they reportedly can jump more than 7 feet horizontally, "bisonguards" on the Preserve are 14 feet wide. (This is double the standard width of a cattleguard.)

  • Bison can run speeds up to 35 miles per hour.

  • Bison are powerful swimmers, navigating with all but hump, muzzle, and top of the head submerged.

  • Both sexes have horns; the cow's are smaller. A bull bison can be identified from a cow by wider, thicker horns; a wider skull; and a generally more massive structure.

  • The gestation period for bison is 9.5 months.

  • Bison calves are generally born in the spring and weigh 30-40 pounds.

  • The bison was named the state mammal of Oklahoma by the legislature in 1972.  

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