Friday, January 3, 2014

DON'T BE BUFFALOED-IT'S A BISON



The rub on the trees behind this Ouabache State Park (Indiana) bison is due to the park's bison rubbing on the trees to remove their winter coat of hair.
Long a symbol of free ranging North American prairie wildlife, the North American Bison, is actually divided into two sub-species.  The American or Prairie Bison of the great plains and the Wood Bison of Canada are members of the largest of North American mammals. Large bulls can weigh 2000 pounds and stand over 6 feet tall at the shoulders.  Large herds of bison migrated through southern Indiana between Vincennes and New Albany, up until approximately 1803, crossing the Ohio River near the Falls of the Ohio on their way to the mineral licks of Kentucky.  This annual migration produced the "Buffalo Trace", a path 12' to 20' wide, that later became a main travel route for settlers and military forces on the move. This hardy, fast, hulk of an animal who's likeness graces the seal of the State of Indiana, was gone from Indiana by 1830, some 50 years prior to the extermination of bison on the Great Plains.

Bison at Ouabache State Park
Bluffton, Indiana
Incorrectly called a "buffalo", the North American BISON is very different from the Old World buffalo like the Water Buffalo of India and the Cape Buffalo of Africa. Our North American Bison are very closely related to the European Wood Bison also known as the Wisent.