The buffalo is an American species of bison also called the American bison, simply bison or the American buffalo. The animal roamed North America in vast herds by 9000 BCE (Before Common Era, equivalent to BC, meaning Before Christ) described as the great bison belt, a tract of grassland that ran from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico, east to the Atlantic seabord as far north as New York and south to Georgia and, according to some sources, down to Florida.
Due to a combination of commercial hunting and indiscriminate slaughter for only the hides in the 19th century, plus the introduction of bovine diseases from domestic cattle, the buffalo nearly became extinct. Historical records and statistics show that a population in excess of 60 million in the late 18th century was reduced to just 541 animals by 1889. Recovery efforts expanded in the mid-20th century and have resulted in a resurgence of wild bison, largely restricted to a few national parks and reserves.
A bison has a shaggy, long dark-brown winter coat, and a lighter-weight, lighter-brown summer coat. Male bison are considerably heavier than females. They are herbivores, grazing on the grasses and wedges of the North American prairies.
Stretching back many millennia, Native American tribes have had cultural and spiritual connections to the American bison. It is the national mammal of the United States of America.