The history of this animal in North America is very, very sad. Or should I say that, of their 100,000 year sojourn here, the last few hundred years have been a disaster. It is no coincidence that this period coincides with the presence of Europeans in the New World.
Before the Europeans arrived, there were an estimated 30-70 million bison in this continent. They stretched from Alaska into Mexico. Fossil remains have been found of herds from more than 100,000 years ago.
By 1889, less than 1,000 bison were left and those were saved by the combined efforts of William Hornaday (Director of the Bronx Zoo) and a small group of ranchers. In 1905, the American Bison Society was formed to save the bison and protect rangeland for the animals. Today, those efforts are carried on by the National Bison Association and the Canadian Bison Association. The bison herds of today number in excess of 350,000 and are growing.