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BC Bison Association: BC's Bison Story

Bison originated in Asia and spread into North America via the Bering land bridge at least 300,000 years ago. Often wrongly called buffalo, the bison is British Columbia’s largest land animal, and one of the rarest.

Bison are large, even-toed ungulates (a hoofed mammal) with a keen sense of smell and excellent eyesight. They have strong herding instincts, and while hardy and curious, they are also wary and easily frightened. Their bodies are covered in long, coarse guard hairs and a matted, woolly undercoat. A shaggy, dark brown mane covers the head, beard, and forelegs, and the coat on the hindquarters is short, straight and coloured coppery brown. As with beef cattle, there are cows (female), calves (young), and bulls (male) in the herd.

Bison have spines on their upper vertebrae that support large muscles, which they use to swing their neck and head from side to side, enabling them to clear snow to access their food in winter. Bison can easily jump over 2m fences and can run up to 65 km/hour. They can go almost anywhere and a common saying is “You can lead a bison anywhere it wants to go.”

For more background about Bison click here.