American Bison (Bison bison) are the heaviest land mammal in North America, with bulls weighing 2000+ pounds. Bison stand 5-6 feet at the shoulder and can reach 12 feet from nose to tail.
These deceptively slow-looking ungulates are capable of reaching speeds of around 30 miles per hour.
Herds include 20-50 individuals and are usually led on their daily migrations by an older cow.
It is estimated that Bison numbered around 60 million by 1700. In the mid-1800’s, they were hunted for their tongues, shot for sport from the back of trains, and were targeted for extermination by the U.S. Army to eliminate a critical Native American food source in the region. The herds were decimated and by 1890 only 750 Bison remained in the United States.
On December 8, 1905 William Hornaday, author of The Extermination of the American Bison, founded the American Bison Society and chose Theodore Roosevelt as the honorary president. Roosevelt helped establish a number of wildlife preserves to protect the quickly vanishing habitat needed for these animals.
Today, Bison number around 350,000 with only 16,000 remain free-roaming, including 4,000 in Yellowstone National Park.
"Made in Montana" was chosen as the winner of the 2007 People's Choice Award at the Western Heritage Days Art Show in Stevenville, Montana.
This drawing is the fourth in a series of larger drawings of the fauna of the Northern Rockies. I have hidden a not-so-subtle icon in the coat that might appear in some future works.