Actually, bison (aka buffalo) have never been on the endangered species list, as the bison meat industry likes to tout. As of 2010, bison are considered “near threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). During the late 1800s, however, bison were hunted almost to extinction to just a few dozen in the Yellowstone area (two dozen in 1902). Efforts to protect these species at the time included the U.S. Army herd protection in Yellowstone and the Lacey Act (1894), which strengthened punishments for poaching.
See http://www.nps.gov/yell/naturescience/bisonqa.htm for more information.
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