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The bison

During your visit, you will discover the bison, the largest land mammal. Adult males will reach nearly a ton. Its considerable weight and strength make it a dangerous animal, even without aggressive intent. Males and females live together only in summer. At the park, females will give birth to calves every year.

Bison were once on the brink of extinction during the construction of the railroads and the conquest of the West (around 1870–1880). At this time the killing of bison was a large-scale economic enterprise but also a strategy to starve the First Nations. Buffalo Bill (William Frederick Cody) was one of the greatest bison hunters. This unending hunt at the end of the 19th century, in addition to the brucellosis epidemic from Europe, almost led to the complete extinction of this species. Although at the beginning of the conquest of the West, we could find hundreds of thousands of bison in the wild, by 1900 only one thousand remained.

At the end of the 19th century, a few middle-class women mobilized against bison slaughter: they strived to save the species by publishing articles and by engaging politicians. In 1905, “The American Bison Society” was founded. Its aim was to protect the survivors and to grow the population. Today, there are 200 to 300, 000 bison living in zoos, wildlife parks or natural reserves (in the USA and Canada).