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The Returning Buffalo

Updated on September 23, 2015
This picture was photographed while driving west on Interstate 40.
This picture was photographed while driving west on Interstate 40.

It's been well over a century ago since they started disappearing, but they are slowly returning, and making a big comeback in life. There was once a time when they all flourished all around Mesas, just like the one pictured to the right. ---->

The American buffalo or bison as they are referred to in their scientific name, are estimated to have numbered over 60 million animals strong once upon a time.

The buffalo once roamed the vast grasslands of North America. The buffalo moved around in massive herds stretched from horizon to horizon in the great plains region of states like Wyoming and Nebraska. Wyoming has included the mighty buffalo upon their state flag.---->

This close up of a buffalo was taken at Yellowstone National Park.
This close up of a buffalo was taken at Yellowstone National Park.
I sort of broke the rule of keeping a safe distance of 25 yards from the buffalo, but look at the great shot!
I sort of broke the rule of keeping a safe distance of 25 yards from the buffalo, but look at the great shot!

In the 1800's the mighty buffalo were considered to be in a virtual limitless supply. By the 1890's buffalo faced near extinction, and they were decimated in numbers that were less than 2,000, after being over hunted by European settlers.

The Native Plains Indians lives depended, and completely revolved around the American buffalo, and they used just about every single part of the animal's body. The buffalo provided them with shelter, tools, clothing, food, and other supplies as well. The buffalo was the original lean red meat at the time, and still is today.

When in contrast the European settlers, otherwise known as buffalo hunters, hunted the buffalo for their tongues (which is considered a delicacy), bones, hide, and very little else. They left the remaining carcasses in the fields to rot. This was very wasteful, really sad, and sometimes man just doesn't think about the consequences of his actions.

Today the buffalo have proven that they are very hearty survivor in this world, thanks to buffalo enthusiasts and farmers working towards preserving a piece of the past. The renewed interest in this graceful animal has brought the buffalo population today back up to about half a million animals. One half of this herd is based in Canada, and the other 250,000 buffalo are living in the United States of America.

I took these top three photographs of the same buffalo at Yellowstone National Park. They have rules and one of those rules is to keep a safe distance from all wildlife. This means keeping a safe distance of 25 yards from wildlife like buffalo, however like so many other people I couldn't resist getting this great shot. While taking this picture a van drove by, and a teenage girl yelled out "You're not supposed to get closer then 75 feet". We all figured she was mad because her parents wouldn't stop so that she could join us, or maybe she just got finished watching the buffalo scene in the Geico insurance commercial.

I took these two photographs below of the first real buffalo that I've ever seen before, and came face to face with in my lifetime. He was a very gentle, quiet animal, and he never made one single solitary sound. He's as big as he looks in these pictures, he was not the least bit afraid of me, and he appeared as though he was very very proud. He was also very cooperative, and happy to stand up and pose for me, while I snapped this photo.

Have you ever had the pleasure of seeing a buffalo in person?

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Do you may remember the buffalo scene in the Geico insurance commercials?

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    • Eric Seidel profile image

      Eric Seidel 2 years ago from Baltimore Maryland

      I have always looked at the American Buffalo with wonder. Everything from that era of American history has always been of interest to me, the good and the bad. Been a western film fanatic and appreciate the genre ever since I was a teenager. Someday I hope to direct a few and articles like this are a great inspiration.

      Quite a few movies have delved into the history but none of them focused on buffalo hunting, and it's effects on the human psyche, like The Last Hunt with Stewart Granger and Robert Taylor. The only downside to it was it featured real Buffalo hunting. Something that no Hollywood studio would have the gumption to distribute these days. It wasn't for the sake of the film however. Park rangers, every year, have to thin the population and the film makers just happened to document it. It's still disturbing to watch though.

      As much as I hate the over saturation of CGI effects I think if a movie like The Last Hunt was done nowadays it would be infinitely more humane to use those techniques instead.

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 2 years ago from Hawaii

      It's sad when a species is endangered. Especially when it's brought about by human hands. I'm glad to know it can be reversed.

    • Freedom America profile image

      Mistyck Moon 2 years ago from Bangor

      Last summer season I had the the awesome experience of working and living in Yellowstone National Park, The first time I saw a Bison was up on a mountain road in Gardiner Montana. I also photographed these beautiful and majestic animals. My fiancé and I are nomads who live and travel in a conversion van and we work the national parks. We have spent these winter months in Death Valley and I am looking forward to returning to Yellowstone in May. I am ready to be part once again of traffic coming to a standstill because a herd of Bison is blocking the roads, or a Grizzly is taking a leisurely stroll down the middle of the road. Elks run wild everywhere and the sound of their bugling during mating season puts a smile on your face.

      Thank you for featuring the Bison in this hub. it put a smile on my face and brought back some incredible memories.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Unfortunately, the buffalo I saw was not in the wild but in a zoo. I'd love to see one in the wild someday.

    • DaphneDL profile image

      Daphne D. Lewis 2 years ago from Saint Albans, West Virginia

      Great photos of these enormous animals! A great article on the buffalo's survival after the depletion of their numbers. There aren't many places where you can see them, but I've seen them in both Colorado and Kansas. Thanks for sharing your photos and story!!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      This is an excellent piece, and thanks so much for bringing awareness to the plight of the buffalo. Their numbers are still not sufficient yet. I have met both domestic and wild buffalo. If anyone charges, it will be the male, and like anything else, either it is breeding season or the animal feels threatened by someone's presence. However, don't let that statement allow you to see them face to face.

    • Marina7 profile image

      Marina 2 years ago from Clarksville TN

      I have seen buffalo's in the Nashville zoo.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      It is so nice that we have saved the buffalo from extinction after pushing it to the brink of extinction. I sometimes buy ground buffalo meat. (Does that count as seeing a buffalo?) I believe this helps preserve the species in an ironic way because it makes raising buffalo economically viable. Voted up and interesting

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Love seeing the buffalo, but with fencing and roads, though they exist, the buffalo will never again likely exist as an undomesticated species able to live free of human intervention.

    • srsddn profile image

      srsddn 2 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

      Quite interesting, theholestory. Buffalo is a common animal in India but bison seems to be quite different in size and shape. There are many families specially in rural areas which sell their milk and they are source of income for them. It is a matter of satisfaction that bison has survived and the number is increasing. Voted up and interesting.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      The bison is a beautiful animal and I am pleased to hear that their population is increasing once again. Too many of our Voted up. animal species are becoming extinct. I am glad the buffalo is strong enough to fight this trend with the support of caring people and organizations. Voted up.