2-2 Bison Population

Graph the Population of the Buffalo

Historians and biologists have tried to estimate the pre-1500's bison population from descriptions and estimates of the early hunters and travelers. These and the estimates of buffalo numbers during the 1800's are “informed guesses,” since scientific sampling methods were not used by early observers. Nevertheless, the crude estimates do indicate a dramatic trend.

Using the data below, graph the population of bison from pre-European settlement to the present. Label key points on the graph to show significant historical events from this chapter that help to explain changes in the buffalo population.

Population Estimates for North American Bison
Researcher Date Estimate
T. McHugh 1500s 30,000,000
E.T. Seton 1850 20,000,000
C.J. Jones 1870 14,000,000
William T. Hornaday 1889 1,091
E.T. Seton 1895 800
Mark Sullivan 1900 1,024
Dr. Frank Baker 1905 1,697
American Bison Society 1910 2,108
American Bison Society 1914 3,788
American Bison Society 1920 8,473
American Bison Society 1929 18,494
Henry H. Collins 1951 23,154
J.A. Rorabacher 1970 30,000
J. R. Luoma 1993 120,000
National Bison Assoc. 2000 364,000


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