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No other mammal has a closer historical tie to the development of North America than its largest land animal, the bison, also commonly known as the buffalo. Once a prominent fixture on the vast plains of the United States and Canada, bison have survived over-harvesting and near extinction. Their numbers dipped as low as 1,000 head by 1900 but have since recovered. Today, they can be found in all 50 states, in every Canadian province and in several countries overseas.
Nearly 95 percent of these bison were raised in private herds. In the United States, bison herds account for nearly 200,000 head on 4,500 farms and ranches (2007 Census of Agriculture). Canadian producers add an additional 200,000 head to the North American herd. The balance is part of a Native American herd, lives on public lands (for example, Yellowstone National Park with 3,500 wild, free-ranging bison) or resides in zoos and reserves. (For more information about Native American herds, which number close to 15,000 buffalo, see the InterTribal Buffalo Council website.)  June 2012 ...  Bison


  • Bison, Livestock Slaughter Annual Summary, National Ag Statistics Service (NASS), USDA.
  • Bison Centre, Bison Producers of Alberta - Information on bison and bison ranching in Canada and the United States. Contains articles, news, events, links, bison ranch listings, free classifieds, health, recipes, cooking tips and more.
  • Bison Revival Fuels a Tourist Sensation, Market to Market, Iowa Public Television, 2009 - Though small by historical standards, today’s herd of buffalo is making a comeback.
  • Canadian Bison Association - Website for bison producers as well as people interested in learning more about bison.
  • Global Agricultural Trade System (GATS), Foreign Ag Service (FAS), USDA, 2010.
  • Monthly Bison Report (Carcass & Cuts), Ag Marketing Service (AMS), USDA.
  • National Bison Association - Nonprofit association that promotes the preservation, production and marketing of bison. Association activities and services serve to better inform and educate members and the general public about bison.


  • Bison, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ontario, Canada, 2007.
  • Bison on the comeback trail, Statistics Canada, 2008 - In 2006 the Canadian bison herd totaled 195,728 head.
  • Focus on Bison, Meat Preparation, Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), USDA, 2003 - Safe storage, handling and preparing of bison.
  • Bison Husbandry, Rutgers University, 1999.
  • Bison Producers' Handbook, A 250-page comprehensive book covering all aspects of bison marketing and production.
  • Bison Production, Livestock Production Guide, Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA), NCAT, 2001 - Production guide covers regulations for bison production, bison meat inspection and processing, marketing, feeding, pastures and fencing, handling and transportation, and links to additional references.
  • Food Safety of Farm-Raised Game, FSIS, USDA, 2006 - Venison, antelope, boar and other exotic species are now farm raised in the United States. These animals are under voluntary USDA inspection.
  • Growing & Finishing Bison, Bison Producers of Alberta.
  • Handbook of Bison Production, University of Alberta, Canada - This handbook outlines the aspects of producing bison in today's marketplace.  
  • Planning for Bison Grazing on Native Rangeland, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), USDA, 2002.

Businesses/Case Studies

Links checked June 2012.

Related Links

Bison, Miscellaneous Livestock and Animal Specialties - Inventory and Number Sold: 2007 and 2002, 2007 Census of Agriculture - State Data, National Agricultural Statistics Service, USDA, 2009.


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