Ecological Benefits of Bison
as a large native herbivore that evolved on the vast grasslands
of the Great Plains, are ideally suited to their environment.
More than that, they are an essential component of
their ecosystem, an integral part of a complex interrelated
ecology involving not only predator and prey species, but
the land on which they live.
Bison are much easier on their range than cattle. It is
fascinating to watch a herd of bison drift across the landscape.
They do not stand in one spot and eat all the forage within
reach, but slowly drift along grazing as they go. Thus,
any given spot is subjected to reasonably intensive but
very short-term grazing, and then allowed to “rest”
and rejuvenate before being grazed again. Progressive cattle
producers raising natural grass-fed beef must go to considerable
lengths to mimic this natural behavior of bison, often using
temporary fencing and constantly rotating pastures to prevent
overgrazing. Native grasses respond well to limited grazing,
but if the same plant gets bitten off repeatedly with limited
chance to re-grow between grazings, the range condition
will eventually deteriorate and become susceptible to invasive
weed infestations. Of course, bison need some room to roam.
If they’re unnaturally confined they will be forced
to overgraze their pasture like any other herbivore, but
given adequate space bison grazing will stimulate healthy
range conditions. The bison our meat is harvested from have
abundant room to roam, and their habitat is in climax condition.
key difference is that cattle will tend to congregate in
the most lush forage available, usually in the riparian
areas along rivers and streams, where they tend to not only
overgraze but damage the streambanks and adjacent areas
from excessive use. Bison will of course utilize these areas
also, but prefer to bed and ruminate on higher ground. Often
groups of bison will bed right on the ridgetops, which tend
to be the less productive, more barren ground, less susceptible
to traffic damage. Also, these areas typically do not have
the insect infestations of the wetter, lower-elevation areas,
and offer a better view. Bison may or may not admire the
scenery, but this offers considerable advantage in observing
the approach of potential predators, and is easier on the
landscape in the process. Yes, these things work in mysterious