Are There Buffalos in America?

Are you keen on getting the right answer to the question, are there buffalos in America? If yes, you are in the right place. 

Buffaloes are very rare in the USA while bison are found quite extensively because of some strong conservation efforts. There is no doubt that buffaloes and bison are two distinct breeds of animals though they may look the same at first.

Actually, before we move further on this subject matter, we need to put a few things in perspective. Quite often Buffaloes and Bison are used interchangeably. Many of us believe that they are both the same. However, this is not the case.

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Bison and buffalo are distinct animals. Buffaloes are native to Asia and Africa whereas Bison are found in Europe and Northern America. However, there is a common string that connects the Bison and the Buffalo. Both these animals belong to the Bovidae family. But apart from this connection, they may not be very closely related. 

How did their names get mixed up? 

When animal experts believe that bison and buffalo are different in terms of genes, there is a common question that comes to our mind. How come both of these animals get mixed up so badly? There are many who believe that the European explorers perhaps made a mistake. However, this is again mostly left to the imagination and the details are still not very clear.

Buffalo may have originated from the French Word Boeuf and this actually means beef. There are others who believe that bison skin resembles the buff coats that were worn by the army personnel in those days. This could have made bison become buffalo in some parts of the world

However, it would be relevant to mention here that there are small numbers of buffaloes and most of them are found in the Yellowstone National Park. They are some of the only wild buffaloes in the country because most of the other types of buffalos are domesticated and are used for milk, and various other dairy products apart from being used as meat.

Hence, it is not totally wrong when we say that there are still a few buffaloes in America. However, in most other parts of the country, bison are found, both in the wild and also reared as cattle. 

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How to differentiate between bison & buffalo? 

Bison vs Buffalo
Bison vs Buffalo

There are some unmistakable differences between bison and buffalo. Bison are easily identifiable because of their large humps that are located in their shoulders. They also have much larger heads when compared to buffalo. Most of them also have beards.

The coats or hides are thick and they have a tendency to shed their hides during early summer or during spring. You also can differentiate between a buffalo and a bison from its horns. Buffalo horns are curved, long, and large and resemble a crescent. On the other hand, bison horns are shorter and sharp when compared to an average buffalo. 

What about eating habits?

Both bison and buffalos are herbivorous beasts. Bison relish grass and eat them all around the year. They also at times love to eat lichen, flowering plants and other woody plant leaves. Bison also have a unique habit that has made them adapt to the climatic condition in America and Europe.

They move their large-sized heads from side to side. They do this with the main objective of plowing and clearing away snow so that they are able to find food. Hence, on the whole, there is no doubt that both bison and buffaloes thrive on grass and other green leafy vegetables. 

Bull Buffalo grazing in July near Montana/Wyoming State border
Bull Buffalo grazing in July near Montana/Wyoming State border

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Is bison endangered? 

Whether one likes to call them buffalo or bison, we need to bear in mind that the number of bison have dwindled alarmingly over the past few centuries. In the 1800s there were around 100 million bison that roamed the majestic Great Plains. However, they were hunted down mercilessly and their numbers came down to a shocking number of 1000 animals.

Some conservation plans were taken up and the population has since recovered to around 30,000. But experts believe that they are still considered a threatened species. Without conservation, it is likely that these majestic creatures may not survive for long. 

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A few more points that differentiate them 

While buffaloes are identified by their mooing habits, bison snort, grunt, or bellow. Wild buffaloes are known to be aggressive and confident animals. The same is the case with bison and people tend to keep a safe distance from them because of their aggressive behavior especially when they are disturbed or when their territories are at risk of being encroached on. 

Are There Buffalos in America?
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