Happy National Bison Day

National Bison Day, celebrated in the United States on the first Saturday each November, will fall on November 6 this year. The American Bison was named a national symbol in 2016, only the second animal to be so distinguished, after the Bald Eagle was declared National Bird in 1782.

Though commonly called buffalo, American Bison (Bison bison) are only distantly related to the true Asian water or African buffaloes. There are two extant subspecies, the Plains Bison (Bison bison bison), and the Wood Bison (Bison bison athabascae).

An estimated 30 to 60 (and possibly as many as 90) million bison roamed the North American continent for millennia, until they were brought to the brink of extinction in mere decades through ruthless hunting by European immigrants. At the turn of the 20th century, only a few hundred of these remarkable animals endured. Fortunately, the species was brought back from the precipice and numbers today amount to approximately 500,000. However, most survivors interbred with cattle and all but 1.6% of extant bison are hybrids. Genetically pure individuals survive only at Yellowstone and a few other locations.

I occasionally come across and photograph small herds of the living, breathing ungulates during my travels in Colorado, but I have also been collecting images of their artistic renditions throughout the state. Their prevalence and popularity are a testament to the animals’ power to awe and inspire. Happy National Bison Day!

To enlarge a photo, click on it. To read its caption, hover the cursor over it.

PS: The topmost photo shows a herd of bison roaming downtown Denver’s iconic 16th Street Mall.

39 thoughts on “Happy National Bison Day

  1. These are potent reminders of the majesty of this wonderful species. I particularly like the statue from downtown Colorado Springs. I’m not sure what material the artist has used, but it reminds me of the chainmail armour worn by medieval knights in Europe! Here’s wishing you a happy Happy National Bison Day, Tanja.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Mr. P. I also like that downtown statue, even though I’m not sure what materials and technique the sculptor used. His name is Richard Jagoda and his sculpture, “Bison americanus,” was awarded first prize in the first “Art on the Streets” event in Colorado Springs, which took place in 1999! I particularly like this photo because it looks as though the bison is smelling the flowers. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ich muss mich berichtigen.
      Ich habe Moschusochsen gesehen.
      Das ist nicht dasselbe.
      Beim googeln eben habe ich gelesen, dass 45.000 Amerikaner sich für den Abschuss von 19 Bisons im Gran Canyon Nationalpark beworben haben.
      Unfassbar, was haben die Menschen davon ein Tier zu erschießen, das sie nicht bedroht.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Liebe Brigitte,
        Moschusochsen und Bisons können leicht verwechselt werden. In Alaska haben mein Mann und ich mal Moschusochsen gesehen, und auch sie sind sehr groß und beeindruckend.

        Was diese Jagd angeht, kann ich das auch überhaupt nicht nachvollziehen. Tiere zu töten, um von ihrem Fleich zu leben ist eine Sache, aber das Jagen nach sogenannten Trophäen ist mir auch völlig fremd.

        Sei herzlich gegrüßt,
        Tanja

        Like

    • I’m sure there are even more in Colorado, Steve. These are sculptures I have seen without even looking for them. But I will be happy to take notice (and photos) of them whenever I happen to cross the state line.

      Like

  2. What an interesting post. The range of artistic renditions you’ve included in truly inspiring, but maybe that’s also because I don’t see that animal in Australia.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a fine post, Tanja. You may know that Veryl Goodnight, a double-great grandniece of 19th century cattleman and trail builder Charlie Goodnight — who with his wife Mary Ann helped to save the American bison — lives and works in Mancos, Colorado. You can see her sculpture of Mary Ann and a bison calf here. I’ve seen some of her work here in Texas; her whole range of wildlife sculptures are wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Linda. I also appreciate you sharing the link–I did not know about Veryl in Mancos or the Goodnight’s role in saving the bison. I haven’t yet come across any of Veryl Goodnight’s sculptures, but will keep my eyes open for them, especially when we are in Mancos again.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful! I actually posted pics of our local bison farm, where the owners have a bison statue on their front porch. However, I was confused , as the last owners of the farm said they sold “beefalo”. Is bison just more pure than beefalo?
    Welcome back! I’ve missed you!
    Julie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Julie, it’s good to be back. I suspect that beefalo meat is from a cow-bison hybrid, as opposed to the pure-bred bison, but I’m sure your local farm could clarify that information for you.
      Enjoy your weekend,
      Tanja

      Like

  5. The bison does seem to be a signature animal both as a national symbol and also for its story of being slaughtered in their thousands to the brink of extinction. It is an achievement that they were saved from being entirely extinguished. I had no idea that they hybridized with cattle and the fact that only 1.6 % are not hybrids is astounding.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, you are right. It’s really remarkable that they have persisted, despite our best (or worst) efforts, and I find them very inspiring. Like you, I was very surprised to learn how few genetically pure bison remain.
      Thanks for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Tanja!

    Nice to hear from you and happy -belated- National Bison Day! Lou and I dropped Catherine off for her freshman year at Carleton College in Minnesota and then continued our travels into South Dakota and then North Dakota. We saw bison at Badlands National Park and Theodore Roosevelt National Park. I am wondering now if those were purely native herds or whether they had mixed with local cattle. Either way, they are remarkable animals. We were biking back to our car at dusk and accidentally passed very close to a bison who was standing right next to the road, eliciting a huff from him. That was enough for me to start peddling even more quickly. I can’t believe that people have gotten hurt intentionally approaching them. There is nothing about them that looks docile or cuddly.

    Hope all is well with you and Mike!

    Love,
    Jill

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing your–somewhat intimidating– experience, Jill. I would love to see those bison in the Dakotas you spent some time with, we have never made it there.
      Hard to believe Catherine is in college!!!
      Thanks for checking in, more in an e-mail soon!
      Warmly,
      Tanja

      Like

  7. I really enjoyed reading this article and looking at the photos with the great works of art. I didn’t even know that there was a special bison day!
    There are not many free bison in Germany. I know a small herd of bison that lives freely in the “Rothaargebirge”. But there is also an association of bison breeders, where bison live privately.
    Keep safe and well, dear Tanja ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Es freut mich, daß Dir die Exponate gefallen, liebe Rosie. Als Künstlerin hast Du sicherlich noch einen anderen Blick für die Kunst.
      Ich kann mich nicht erinnern, jemals wilde Wisents in Deutschland gesehen zu haben, hoffe aber, das irgendwann mal nachzuholen.
      Auch Dir alles Gute. Bleib gesund!
      Tanja

      Liked by 1 person

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