The site navigation utilizes arrow, enter, escape, and space bar key commands. Left and right arrows move across top level links and expand / close menus in sub levels. Up and Down arrows will open main level menus and toggle through sub tier links. Enter and space open menus and escape closes them as well. Tab will move on to the next part of the site rather than go through menu items.

The Buzz

Celebrate National Bison Day With These Five Facts About Our National Mammal

(Photo courtesy of Matthew Zook)

What’s fast on its feet, has a major vertical jump and can quickly pivot when in defense mode? No, it’s not a professional basketball player with superstar skills. It’s our national mammal, the bison. In celebration of these big fluffy behemoths, the first Saturday of November — November 6 this year — is designated as National Bison Day. And what you don’t know about these scraggly bearded giants might actually surprise you. Read on for five fascinating facts about bison.

They're pretty agile

Bison are the largest mammals in North America, but don't let their size fool you. Despite weighing about a ton, they have a vertical jump of up to 6 feet, are good swimmers and can spin around quickly to defend themselves against predators. They've also been clocked at 35 mph to 40 mph miles when running at full speed.

Their tails tell a story

If a bison's tail is hanging down and switches naturally side to side, it usually means the bison is calm, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior. But if a bison's tail suddenly stands straight up, be on alert. It may be ready to charge. "It's great to love bison," the agency states, "but love them from a distance" due to their unpredictable nature.

They're known to wallow


Pigs aren't the only animals that like to wallow in the dirt. Bison will roll around in dirt to help shed their fur and to try to prevent the bites of pesky insects. They will also wallow during mating season to leave behind their scent and show off their stamina.

They're prehistoric

Bison have been around since prehistoric times, and Yellowstone National Park is the only place in the United States where bison have lived continuously, according to the National Park Service. This means the animals that currently roam the park are the pure descendants of these earliest ancestors.

While the American bison was close to extinction in the late 1800s, today – thanks to the efforts of conservationists – bison can now be found in all 50 states, including at national parks and wildlife refuges and on private lands. The total bison population in the United States is between 400,000 and 500,000, with about 30,000 living in public and private herds that are managed for conservation purposes, the park service reports. The remaining bison are raised as livestock. 

They have built-in snow plows


A bison's shoulder hump isn't just a pretty decoration. It's made up of muscle and supported by long vertebrae that let the bison use its head to plow through snow. Because bison are plant eaters and forage between nine and 11 hours a day, this special skill comes in handy in the winter. It allows this massive animal to swing its head from side to side, clearing the snow and creating foraging patches.


Interested in celebrating National Bison Day? The Forest Preserve District is partnering with Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie to celebrate the fourth annual National Bison Day with a virtual Bison Crawl expedition from 11 a.m. to noon Saturday, November 6, that will roam between locations in Illinois, Montana and Canada.


Stay up-to-date on the happenings in Will County's forest preserves by subscribing to The Citizen, our weekly digital newsletter that provides subscribers with updates on Forest Preserve news, upcoming events, and other fun and useful information for the whole family. If you're only interested in programs, subscribe to The Weekly Five, which outlines the five must-do programs each week. Signing up for either newsletter is easy and free of charge.

Quiz: What's Your Skunk IQ?


Find out by answering these 10 questions.

Read More

Instead Of Shopping, #OptOutside For Black Friday


Looking for a new post-Thanksgiving tradition other than hitting the local stores for some frenzied holiday shopping? Consider joining the #OptOutside movement.

Read More

December Includes Our Darkest Day, But Also Potential For Shooting Stars


December will be a good month to catch a glimpse of a shooting star — if the weather cooperates.

Read More

Sign up for a Newsletter