Colorado Buffalo Hunt 2-3 Year Old Bull
Colorado Public Land
DescriptionThe American Bison (Buffalo) is the largest land animal in North America. They once numbered in the millions, perhaps between 25 million and 60 million by some estimates, and they were possibly the most numerous large land animal on earth. After American Indian tribes acquired horses in the 1600s, they could travel farther to find bison and hunt the animals more easily. However, they generally did not hunt to excess. Market hunting and sport hunting in the 1800s by European-American settlers killed far more bison than tribes ever did. In addition, the U.S. Army held a campaign in the late 1800s to eliminate bison as a way to control tribes that depended on bison. Yellowstone was the only place in the contiguous 48 states where wild, free-ranging bison persisted into the 20th century. The American Bison is strictly a vegetarian, a grazer of grasslands and sedges in the meadows, the foothills, and even the high-elevation, forested plateaus. Bison bulls can weigh upwards of 1,800 pounds. Females (cows) average about 1,000 pounds. Both stand approximately six feet tall at the shoulder, and can move with surprising speed to defend their young or when approached too closely by people. Bison breed from mid-July to mid-August, and bear one calf in April and May. To tell a male from a female, a bull’s head is wider and shaped more like a triangle than the female bison; its “forehead” fur is much thicker, as is the fur on its forelegs; and its beard is thicker. A cow’s horns are slightly more curved and slender than a bull’s. In addition, a cow’s shoulders are narrower than its hips while a male’s shoulders are broader than its hips. Bison (scientific name: Bison bison) are not listed as a threatened or endangered species. Approximately 30,000 bison live in public and private herds in North America; they are managed for conservation goals. Approximately 400,000 bison are raised as livestock. A bison’s massive hump is comprised of muscles supported by long vertebrae; this allows a bison to use its head as a snowplow in winter, swinging side to side to sweep aside the snow. The bison can run up to 35 miles per hours. Bison are sexually mature at age 2. Many female bison breed at this age, but usually not males. The older males (>7 years) participate in most of the breeding. Reddish-brown calves are born in late April and May, after a gestation period of 9 to 91⁄2 months. Calves can keep up with the herd 2 to 3 hours after birth and they are well protected by their mothers and other members of the herd. However, wolves and grizzly bears can kill bison calves.
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