Are Bison Still Endangered?
As of the writing of this post, bison are not considered threatened or endangered. However, this doesn’t mean they were never endangered or threatened. Thanks to several people throughout history, including one United States President, bison were ultimately saved.
The Reason for Near Extinction
Though the bison are currently not in danger of extinction, there were incidents that caused bison to nearly be eliminated from the United States. The first and most obvious reason for bison’s near-extinction is hunting. Native Americans and settlers hunted the bison for a variety of reasons. For Indigenous Americans, the reason was mainly due to survival and self-preservation by creating clothing, shelters, and other various and important items. When settlers began to move into the area in the 1800s, settlers slaughtered millions of bison for both food and sport. In a move of pure hatred and self-preservation, setters even killed bison just to “deprive Native Americans of their most important natural asset.” Hunting became so prevalent that when railways carrying passengers drove by bison, passengers would shoot bison out of the window. With the help of guns, bison were dying much quicker than ever before. Hunting is the biggest reason that the bison population was decimated prior to help from several activists.
Loss of Habitat
An example of the loss of habitat as mentioned above is the railways that carried passengers who shot at bison. Bison who used to roam across grasslands now had to contend with railways that would cut them off and cause deaths. As more settlers moved into the area, they drove away bison either through force or just by putting down settlements of their own.
Loss of Diversity
Genetics plays a tricky part in bison restoration. If a calf is born in a herd and is unable to move to a different herd, it may have to breed with its mother. This loss of genetic diversity is not good for any living thing and can cause genetic issues to occur, which ultimately caused further issues with bison’s close extinction.
Less than 300 years ago, we almost saw the last of the great bison that once roamed out West from Mexico to Canada. Those who needed bison to survive used bison, and hunters utilized them for sport and game. Settlers decimated bison’s habitat and they were nearly wiped off the continent. Fortunately, this was not the case and bison are now no longer endangered or threatened, and we have several advocates for bison that will ensure that bison no longer fear again.