Wood Bison Buffalo (Bos bison athabascae)


The wood bison is north America's largest land mammal, with males being much larger than females. Body length can range from 2.4 to 3.9 meters (8 to 13 feet); shoulder height can measure from 1.3 to 1.8 meters (four to six feet). Weight can range from 360 to 1090 kilograms (790 to 2400 pounds). General characteristics include; Massive, triangular heads Large shoulders with a high hump Dense, shaggy dark brown and black hair around the head and neck. Both sexes have black horns, though female bison horns are thinner and more curved. Distribution In Alberta, most free-ranging bison are considered wood bison and are found in Alberta's far north, in and around Wood Buffalo National Park, and in a large area centred on the Hay-Zama Lakes complex. Natural History Wetland-associated meadows, open savannah-like shrublands, and dry grasslands are the most important habitat types for wood bison in the boreal forest, but habitat requirements vary based on the season. In winter, Alberta bison eat grasses and sedges. In other seasons, their diet can be more variable, including species such as grasses, sedges, willow leaves and lichens. Reproduction and Growth Male bison compete for mates during the rut, or mating season, which takes place from July to mid-September. Though male bison reach reproductive maturity at one to two years of age, younger bulls usually do not have the opportunity to breed due to competition from older males. Female bison are physically mature at two years of age and most calve for the first time at three years old. Typically, a cow gives birth to a single calf in the month of May. Within hours of its birth, the calf can follow it's mother. The Buffalo below resides in Elk Island National Park. (Text information was provided by Alberta Government Resource Development.)

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