Bison are herbivores, and they graze year-round, the National Zoo reports. They eat mostly grasses, but will also eat lichens, flowering plants and woody plant material. In the winter, when snow covers their grazing grounds, they sweep their heads from side to side to clear an area from which to eat.
Bison typically graze for food in the morning and again in the evening. During the day, they rest and chew cud, which is part of their digestive process. During the rest periods, they often wallow in mud and dusty areas to stay cool.
Despite their enormous size, bison are fast, reaching speeds up to 40 miles per hour. And although they may appear docile and calm, they can be dangerous, particularly if they are frightened or feel threatened.
At Yellowstone and other areas out West, bears are thought to be the biggest threat for attacking humans, but bison pose a real risk as well. In fact, bison have injured more people at Yellowstone than any other animal, the parks service reports.
One reason bison pose a risk to humans is because they are unpredictable. In Illinois, bison herds are behind fences, which prevents encounters with onlookers. In the West, in places like Wyoming and South Dakota, bison herds roam free in some places. In these areas, people should use caution if they encounter bison. Always stay at least 25 yards away from the animals, and never feed bison or any other wildlife, the parks service advises.
(Photos via Shutterstock)
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