Return of the American Buffalo: How Bison Made a Comeback From Near-Extinction

The American Bison - otherwise known as Buffalo - are powerful, majestic, huge mammals that roam the plains of North America. 

They are the National Mammal of the United States, and also the largest mammal on the continent. 

At one point in recent history, the Great American Bison stood at the brink of extinction. How they managed to make a come-back is an incredible story. 

We recommend you watch the video version of this post by clicking HERE now. 

You can also download our audio-only podcast by clicking the download button above. 

Let’s jump into the story: 

Dancing With Extinction

Prior to the 1800’s, more than 60 million bison roamed the plains of North America. 

However, by the end of the 19th century, there were fewer than 600 buffalo. You read that right - the number of buffalo were count-able and there were but a few left. 

The massacre of the American bison population were due to a few factors: 

First, their lands were often taken over by settlers that wanted to use the land for agriculture purposes. When buffalo came near, they were simply slaughtered to keep them away. 

Bison were also a great source of food and resources, so anytime a bison came onto one’s territory, it was easy food and resources, if you could kill it. 

Oppressive levels of hunting completely wiped out the bison. In fact, settlers often slaughtered the bison just to keep native populations away. 

Bison were an excellent food source for Native American populations, so the excessive hunting of the bison was one way that settlers could force the Native Americans away. 

Without traditional food sources available, Native Americans - like the Bison - were forced to move further and further away from the settlers taking over land and territory! 

Resurgence: The Great Comeback of American Bison

Some former bison hunters, including prominent figures like William 'Buffalo Bill' Cody and future President Theodore Roosevelt, gathered the few surviving bison, promoted captive breeding and eventually reintroduced them to the natural landscape.

It had become clear to William ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody in some of his hunts that the buffalo species was not to survive the continued hunting and exploitation of these animals. 

There were 5 primary Herds from which nearly all buffalo today came from: 

The McKay-Alloway Herd, Charles Goodnight Herd, Walking Coyote Herd, Frederick Dupree Herd, Charles “Buffalo” Jones Herd. 

Between these 5 primary herds and special lands set up to be protected and allow the buffalo populations to regrow, bison would soon make an epic come-back. 

By the 1920’s, bison populations had gone from under 600 to numbering around 12,000! 

By the early 2000’s, the total North American bison population numbered around 500,000. 

Around 90% of these bison are raised as livestock, but they are raised in mostly natural conditions rather than inhumane farms like other wildlife. 

The remaining 10% or so of buffalo populations can be found in public parks and preserves. 

This opportunity has allowed scientists to study buffalo more closely, and one of the great discoveries found is that buffalo actually have a very positive impact on the environment & nature. 

For example, they can allow more diverse and higher quality vegetation to grow, and help damaged areas grow back faster. 

Wildlife & Pest Infestation

Humanity has built concrete jungles and wonderful suburbs next to these beautiful parks and nature preserves. 

As beautiful as nature is, the comforts of a nice home tend to suit the human better. 

If you think that you have a wildlife or pest infestation problem, please call us at 855-WILDLIFE or visit

Whenever possible, we humanely capture the wild creatures and return them to the wild where they belong so that you and the creature can continue on in peace. 

Wildlife/pest infestation places you and your family at health risks, as well as financial risks as the creatures tend to leave significant damage on your home. 

Again, give us a call at 855-WILDLIFE or visit for more information. 

-Wildlife x Team International 

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