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More about our Yellowstone Bison

Yellowstone is the only place in the United States where bison (Bison bison) have lived continuously since prehistoric times. Yellowstone bison are exceptional because they comprise the nation’s largest bison population on public land and are among the few bison herds that have not been hybridized through interbreeding with cattle. Unlike most other herds, this population has thousands of individuals that are allowed to roam relatively freely over the expansive landscape of Yellowstone National Park and some nearby areas of Montana. They also exhibit wild behavior like their ancient ancestors, congregating during the breeding season to compete for mates, as well as migration and exploration that result in the use of new habitat areas. These behaviors have enabled the successful restoration of a population that was on the brink of extinction just over a century ago. However, some Yellowstone bison are infected with brucellosis, a livestock disease that can be transmitted to wild bison and elk as well as cattle through contact with infected fetal tissue. To prevent conflicts with ranching and other activities outside the park, the National Park Service works with other federal, state, and tribal agencies to manage and develop policies for bison access to winter range there. Conservation of wild bison is one of the most heated and complex of Yellowstone's resource issues. All of the interested parties bring their own wide-ranging values and objectives to the debate.

Quick Facts on Bison in Yellowstone

  • Population estimated at 4,900 (2015) in two breeding herds, northern and central.
  • Male (bull) weighs up to 2,000 pounds (900 kg), female (cow) weighs up to 1,000 pounds (500 kg).
  • May live 12–15 years, a few live as long as 20 years.
  • Feed primarily on grasses and sedges.
  • Mate in late July through August; give birth to one calf in late April or May.
  • Can be aggressive, are agile, and can run up to 35 miles per hour (55 kph).

Support our American Buffalo!

If we (United States) had one symbol that represents our American frontier and heritage, it would probably be the American Buffalo (Bison). As our family visited Yellowstone National Park last year, we were in awe at the sight of this majestic beast. We were so excited to see the herd in such excellent condition. Currently, the buffalo in Yellowstone are protected but we must be vigilant in our efforts to take care of our Native buffalo herds.

Please visit the following website to learn more about our American Buffalo and its continued contribution to our way of life and health.


To provide support and show appreciation for our Native buffalo, with each full-grain (semi-domestic) Bison belt sold, Old Federal Leather goods will donate $1 to the Yellowstone Park Foundation.