Skip to main content - The Official Portal for North Dakota State Government


Fact Sheet
Scientific Name Bison bison
Description Adult bison can weigh up to 2000 lbs (1200 lbs for females), and can reach 5 to 6.5 feet height at the shoulder. Juvenile coats are reddish and darken to dark brown as they age. Both male and female adults have curved horns that can reach 2 feet in length.
Habitat Grasslands and meadows. Wooded areas may be used for cover.
Food Graze on grasses and sedges
Range While once present throughout North Dakota populations were decimated by market hunting and livestock-borne diseases. Currently there are small herds in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the Cross Ranch Nature Preserve and on a few other public and private lands.
Mating Breeding peaks in late July and early August. Temporary tending behavior rather than permanent bonding occurs. Gestation averages 258 days. Twins rarely occur.
Young Newborns weigh an average of 44 pounds. Young nurse for 7-8 months, but begin grazing attempts around 5 days old.
Habits Bison generally stay in small groups (10-20 animals). Adult bulls may be solitary or stay in small groups with other adult males outside of breeding season. Animals generally feed during the day, but may feed or travel at night as well.
Fun Facts Bison are North America's largest native land mammal and are considered livestock in North Dakota.