American Buffalo (Bison)
The magnificent American buffalo (Bison bison) was recognized as the official animal symbol of Kansas in 1955. A mature male bison can weigh over 1800 pounds and is 6 foot tall at the shoulder. Buffalo once roamed the American prairie by the tens of millions and provided a way of life for the plains Indians. European settlers hunted buffalo to the brink of extinction - it's estimated that between 300 - 500 animals remained when the federal government passed more strict game laws in 1889.
The Buffalo is also featured on the U.S. Mint's bicentennial quarter for Kansas, the official state seal, and the state flag of Kansas.
The buffalo is an inseparable part of American history; no other wild animal has played such a significant role in human affairs. The tribes of the American plains relied on bison for food, shelter, clothing, and as a powerful spiritual symbol.
Today, though they are not in danger of extinction, there are indications that the present populations are threatened by both genetic hybridization with domestic cattle (a result of efforts to breed a more robust “beefalo” breed in the early 1900s) and exposure to livestock diseases.