Bison in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, USA
© Brian Evans/Getty Image
In praise of bisons
The first Saturday of November is a day to recognise bisons in the United States, where the great beasts were once plentiful. Tens of millions strong in the 1800s, they roamed in great herds, helping to diversify and maintain the prairie habitat. They also played important roles in Native American culture. Indigenous peoples have used the bison for food, utensils and clothing and pay tribute to the animals in religious rituals.
But as settlers arrived in the American West, the bison’s habitat started to disappear and that, combined with overhunting, nearly wiped out the species altogether. Ranchers, conservationists and politicians teamed up to try to save them. In 1913, 14 bison from the Bronx Zoo were shipped to a wildlife refuge to revive the population. Today more than 20,000 bison roam on public lands in the United States.