The American bison was a dietary staple of the Native Americans before the European colonists arrived on American shores. As a way of suppressing the Natives, the U.S. military slaughtered as many of these creatures as they could. Additionally, they were hunted in mass numbers for sport and by the year 1895 there were an estimated 800 wild bison remaining in the U.S. By 1902 the government realized the threat of extinction that they faced and placed a herd of 41 in protective care in Yellowstone National Park. Through this program and public awareness the bison was able to repopulate itself slowly. Presently there are about 30,000 in North America in the wild, which is a great improvement but nothing compared to the estimated 60 million before the colonization occurred.
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