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what is the kansas state animal,
The magnificent American buffalo (Bison bison) was recognized as the official animal symbol of Kansas in 1955. All State Mammals
Native Americans pursue a herd of buffalo on the Kansas state flag and seal, and a buffalo is featured on the U.S. Mint’s bicentennial commemorative Kansas quarter. The American buffalo is also a state symbol of Oklahoma and Wyoming, and in 2016 was designated as our national mammal.
The most abundant grazing animal in North America was formerly the American Bison. One estimate of the original number of bison in North America ranged as high as 70 million animals. A single herd located southwest of what is now Dodge City, Kansas in 1871 was carefully estimated to have over 4 million members! To see anything like this today one would have to visit Africa to see the large herds of grazing animals which still remain there. Hunted for centuries, their numbers decreased and the American Bison was on the verge of extinction by 1889. Presently numbering about 5,000, they now live in herds scattered throughout the United States in preserved areas.
Near Wichita, one can see bison at Maxwell Game Refuge east of McPherson, the Konza Prairie south of Manhattan and at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve north of Pawhuska, Oklahoma.
- Common Name: Bison or American bison or American buffalo
- Scientific Name: Bison bison
- Color: Dark-brown winter coat, and a lighter-weight, lighter-brown summer coat
- Height: Head-and-body lengths range from 2 to 3.5 m (6.6 to 11.5 ft) long, the tail adding 30 to 91 cm (12 to 36 in)
- Weight: 800 to 2000 pounds
- Diet: Grass, sagebrush
- Cubs: 1 calf per season
- Major strength: Powerful neck and upper body strength
- Lifespan: 1-20 years
Kansas’s state animal, bison, is a giant animal that weighs from 800 to 2,000 pounds and stands nearly six feet high at the shoulder. A big head, high hump on the shoulders and dark brown shaggy hair characterize the buffalo. Bison are part of the family Bovidae It is the family to which cattle and goats belong. They are not in the same family that Asian and African buffalo are.
However, because they resembled these old world animals, the early explorers called them by that name. The hump, along with a broad, massive head, short, thick neck and small hindquarters give the animal its rugged appearance. Bison are year-round grazers. They feed mostly on grasses, but when food is scarce, they will eat vegetation such as sagebrush. On the average, bison ingest 1.6% of their body mass per day of dry plants. Bison require water every day as well.
Why is the American Bison the Kansas State animal?
The American buffalo, also known as bison, has always held great meaning for American Indian people. Buffalo represents their spirit and reminds them of how their lives were once lived, free and in harmony with nature. The “American buffalo”, Bison bison, was adopted as Kansas’ state animal on March 28, 1955.
Are there wild bison in Kansas?
Kansas hosts the nation’s fifth-largest bison population. You can see them at ranches and parks across the state, including the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge near Canton, where the state’s largest public herd of 200 resides. In western Kansas, you can see bison in unusual white, golden and multi colors.
Where do American bison live?
Bison were once found from Alaska to northern Mexico, primarily in the grasslands and prairies of North America. Today, they occupy only about 1 percent of their former range.
Herds can be found in parts of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Ontario and Saskatchewan in Canada, as well as Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, Utah, Alaska and possibly Texas in the U.S. These modern herds are very fragmented, and their distribution is limited.
Which is the official state animal of Kansas?
American Bison or American buffalo is the official state animal of Kansas. The bison was entitled as Kansas’s state animal in 1955. The scientific name of the state animal of Kansas is Bison bison. The American buffalo, also known as bison, has always held great meaning for American Indian people.
What’s the Difference Between Bison and Buffalo
It’s easy to understand why people confuse bison and buffalo. Both are large, horned, oxlike animals of the Bovidae family. There are two kinds of bison, the American bison and the European bison, and two forms of buffalo, water buffalo and Cape buffalo. However, it’s not difficult to distinguish between them, especially if you focus on the three H’s: home, hump, and horns.
Contrary to the song “Home on the Range,” buffalo do not roam in the American West. Instead, they are indigenous to South Asia (water buffalo) and Africa (Cape buffalo), while bison are found in North America and parts of Europe. Despite being a misnomer—one often attributed to confused explorers—buffalo remains commonly used when referring to American bison, thus adding to the confusion.
Another major difference is the presence of a hump. Bison have one at the shoulders while buffalo don’t. The hump allows the bison’s head to function as a plow, sweeping away drifts of snow in the winter. The next telltale sign concerns the horns. Buffalo tend to have large horns—some have reached more than 6 feet (1.8 meters)—with very pronounced arcs. The horns of bison, however, are much shorter and sharper. And, if you want to throw a B into the mix, you can check for a beard. Bison are the hipsters of the two animals, sporting thick beards. Buffalo are beardless.
American bison like to live and travel in groups. For most of the year herds are divided by sex, with females and calves in one herd and males in another herd. When the breeding season begins in the summer, many males temporarily join the female herd and begin looking for a mate. Bison communicate by hearing and smell. The most important communication is done with pheromones and smells, especially during reproduction. Bison also grunt, snort, and growl.
The dominant bulls (male bison) choose a female and defend her against other males through fighting. The males might butt heads or use their horns. Once the female agrees to mate, the pair mates several times.
The cows (female bison) are pregnant throughout the fall, winter, and early spring. moreover the calves are born in mid-spring to increase the likelihood of surviving the next winter. Most cows only have one offspring. Each calf weighs about 50 pounds (23 kilograms) and has reddish fur. Within an hour after birth the calf stands and, soon after, begins to walk.
The cows will care for their young for about a year—however, the calves learn to be independent pretty quickly. By the middle of their first winter, juvenile bison are feeding independently and have the typical brown fur of the adults. It will be two to three years for the females, and upward of six years for the males, until they can breed themselves.
Winter can be very hard on bison. The cold and lack of food can take its toll, especially if the bison is sick, injured, young or old. Very young bison have the highest risk of dying over the winter. The average bison that survives to adulthood can live around 20 years. Captive-raised bison typically live longer.
Bison are gregarious animals and are arranged in groups according to sex, age, season, and habitat. Cow groups are composed of females, males under three years of age, and a few older males. More males enter these groups as the rut approaches. Males live either individually or in groups that may be as large as 30 head. Dominance between the bulls is linear. Bulls that have a higher rank in the society breed more often than those of a lower rank. Cows also live in a linear dominance hierarchy, which is established early in life.
Grazing takes place during several periods each day and is conducted in loose groups. When bison travel, they form a line. The traveling pattern of bison is determined by the terrain and habitat condition. An adult cow supplies the leadership. Bison are good swimmers as well as runners, capable of reaching speeds of 62 km/hr.
The olfactory sense of bison is excellent and is essential in detecting danger. Bison can hear very well as well. Buffalo are able to distinguish large objects from a distance of 1 km and moving objects 2 km away. moreover it can communicate vocally through grunts and snorts.
Copulation is initiated by the bull and is quick. During the rut, bulls fight among themselves. The amount of wallowing and tree horning also increases during the rut (Meagher, 1986).
Size and Diet
Bison stand some 5 to 6.5 feet tall at the shoulder, and can tip the scales at over a ton. Despite their massive size, bison are quick on their feet. When the need arises they can run at speeds up to 40 miles an hour. They sport curved, sharp horns that may grow to be two feet long.