The bison species is North America's largest land animal and dominated the North American continent from the time of the last ice age until the coming of Europeans to this continent.
We believe that the early bison and man followed the land bridge connecting Asia with North America some 10.000 years ago. The saber-tooth tigers and the woolly mammoth could not successfully adapt to a warming climate, but the bison found the grassy plains just right.
The aboriginal people who made the migration over the same land bridge found the abundant supply of bison a very good reason to stay on this side of the bridge. These animals would provide them with food, shelter, tools and fuel for thousands of years. In time the aboriginal people came to regard the bison as their special gift from the Great Spirit.
The complete loss of a species was prevented by efforts from conservationists both in Canada and the United States. Some herds were kept in national parks, and individual ranchers kept some small herds privately. Gradually the population stabilized and began to grow slowly. In the 1980's some ranchers who had been supplying only local markets began to have enough product to sell to outside markets.
A new livestock industry began in earnest in the 1990's when farmers and ranchers discovered that the public had an appetite for this heritage food. Bison numbers have expanded significantly. In the year 2000 there would be an estimated 375.000 bison on farms and ranches in North America. Canada have approximately 100.000 of that total.