For thousands of years,
millions of bison roamed across North America. Look at the map below.
It shows the range of the bison at two different times in
The pink part shows the
places where bison were found in the 1500's. The blue part shows the
places where bison were found in the late 1800's. What do you think
happened to all those millions of bison?
When the white settlers
came and moved out west, they started to hunt the bison almost to the
point of extinction. Within a 25-year period, they killed the bison
by the millions, usually taking only the pelt and the best meat,
leaving the rest to rot. It became a popular sport to kill the bison
just for fun, and people were known to shoot them in passing from
moving trains. By the end of the 1800's, only about 800 bison were
left in the United States.
The Native Americans of
the Plains depended on the bison for survival. Killing the bison was
one way to kill their way of life and to dominate (control) them.
To see a timeline of the
bison slaughter (killing) and comeback, go to:
Luckily a few herds were
saved from extinction. Today, about 50 thousand (50,000) bison live
in our country, primarily in park refuges and in ranches. A good
place to see bison today is at Yellowstone National Park in
in Yellowstone Park