Our Goal: Restore bison across North America by reconnecting landscapes and communities
These shaggy haired beasts are the largest mammal in North America, weighing in at up to 2,000 pounds
Despite their massive size, Bison can reach speeds of 35mph and jump 6ft straight up in the air
Baby bison are known as ‘red dogs’ when they are born because of their copper color
Their large hump is muscle, not fat; allowing them to plow through snow with their head
This majestic animal recently became the official national mammal of the United States
What WCS is doing:
WCS works with diverse partners across the continent to recover bison and restore our cultural connection to them. WCS is spearheading a transformative biocultural strategy for rewilding bison across North America. This emergent strategy braids Indigenous science, western conservation science, economics, civic engagement, and art and culture to support ecological and cultural restoration of wild, free-ranging buffalo
For the first time in history, WCS co-hosted the American Bison Society (ABS) Conference & Workshop on Native lands with our Indigenous partner, the Pueblo of Pojoaque. The Conference brought together more than 200 bison visionaries from across the continent, including Tribes, First Nations, scientists, agencies, conservationists, ranchers, artists, and philanthropists to rewilding buffalo across North America.
A WCS-led Campaign helped establish the American bison as the United States’ official National Mammal. President Obama signed the National Bison Legacy Act, into law in May 2016. This majestic beast is now celebrated annually on the first Saturday of November on National Bison Day.
In 2014, The Buffalo Treaty was first signed on the Blackfeet Territory in Montana, establishing an intertribal alliance committed to bison restoration, collaboration, cultural preservation, land conservation, youth education, and economic development. For the first time in 150 years, 10 Tribes and First Nations came together for this cross-boundary Indigenous agreement. The Treaty now includes more than 30 signatory nations.
In 2005, WCS re-established the American Bison Society to launch an even bolder vision: the cultural and ecological restoration of bison across North America.
In 1905, the Bronx Zoo’s first director William Hornaday, Theodore Roosevelt, and others launched the American Bison Society (ABS), a national campaign to prevent the extinction of the bison. Their work represents one of the first successful rewilding efforts in North America, shipping 15 animals from WCS’s Bronx Zoo to the Wichita Mountains
Lack of habitat connectivity, habitat loss across rangelands due to land degradation and conversion, low genetic diversity, lack of social support for wild bison.
Be a Buffalo Ambassador: Buffalo restoration provides a path to heal our fractured relationship with the natural world and humanity. Breathing life into the Buffalo Way—Respect. Relationship. Reciprocity. Rewilding. Rematriation. Reconciliation—can guide us to an entirely different world: a world that is diverse, equitable, inclusive, and just. A world that not only survives, but thrives.
Art and culture are potent vehicles for this journey and Buffalo Circles serve as both catalytic ceremony and a call to collective inspired action. The Buffalo Circles are an invitation to evoke Buffalo in our literature, painting, graffiti, music, dance, film, and sculpture. Join us to reignite Buffalo’s creative fire—and once again walk the Buffalo Way together.
Buffalo Circles (Click here to continue to join us on this journey):
Buffalo Cultural Circle
Host or join a Buffalo Circle
Get Bison on the Brain: Grow a bison beard, host a bison bash for National Bison Day, make a bison beer, attend the American Bison Society Conference
Support the Indian Buffalo Management Act- contact your Representatives and Senators and ask them to support the cultural & ecological restoration of bison across Indian Country
Support Bison producers by what you eat and what you wear
Visit a bison herd near you & share your wild story with #whatsyourwild
Lend your voice to foundational efforts underway in the U.S. States to bring about the ecological and cultural restoration of wild bison, including the Department of Interior's 2020 Bison Conservation Initiative (BCI). Write to thank Secretary Bernhardt & DOI for their collaborative conservation leadership and call on the Secretary to fully resource and implement the BCI at scale.
Bison are an ecological and cultural keystone species that once ranged in the tens of millions across North America. These powerful beings create healthy ecosystems for other mammals, birds, insects, and forage with their grazing habits, wallows, dung, and even snot. ‘Bison’ is the scientific name for this mammal, but they are also known as ‘buffalo.’ Since their near extermination in the 19th century, bison are making a comeback thanks to collaborative conservation efforts.