Zion Mountain Ranch has a herd of buffalo roaming on several hundred acres. Every spring several buffalo calves are born (usually 8 to 12) and our guests thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to see these young bison.
In 1806 Lewis and Clark wrote, “The moving multitude…darkened the whole plains.” At one time buffalo covered much of the United States and parts of Canada and Mexico. It is estimated that 30 to 75 million buffalo once roamed these areas.
Buffalo are the largest North American land mammal. The regulated killing of the buffalo at the end of the 1800′s left only 1500 buffalo in the United States. Today there are approximately 350,000 buffalo. Buffalo meat is becoming more popular due to the fact that it not only tastes better than beef, but is lower in fat and cholesterol than beef, pork and chicken.
Both males and females have a single set of hollow, curved horns. The male buffalo, called bulls, are immense, often weighing a ton or more and standing 5 to 6 feet high at the shoulders. The huge head and great hump covered with dark brown wooly hair contrast sharply with their relatively small hips. The females, or cows, are not as massive. Despite their great size and bulkiness, buffalo have amazing mobility, speed, agility, and are able to sprint at speeds up to 30 mph.
In the spring, buffalo begin to shed their heavy winter coats, and soon their hair hangs in tatters. To hasten shedding and possibly to relieve their itching skin, buffalo rub against large stones and trees. By late spring, the only remaining long hairs are on the head, forelegs, and hump. To escape the torment of attacking insects, buffalo wallow in dust or sand.
Native American tribes depended on the buffalo’s meat and hide, and many still believe today that the animal has special spiritual and healing powers, making it an important part of their culture.
*Some of this information is courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife