Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Lewis and Clark in North Dakota:
Wildlife Then & Now
While passing through the Dakotas and Montana, Lewis and Clark saw bison in
such numbers that they could only guess as to the size of herds. Based upon
journals of other explorers and fur traders, bison were abundant across the
state with relatively higher numbers in the west as compared to the east. A
growing market for robes and the increased use of rifles in the 1820s set the
stage for the decline in bison numbers. The rate of decline increased rapidly
between 1860 and 1880. The introduction of cattle, and their associated diseases,
may have also played a role in this decline. In 1884 the last North Dakota bison
was killed south of Dickinson.
Bison may now be viewed at Sullys Hill Game Preserve near Devils Lake, the
Dakota Zoo in Bismarck, and both units of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Additionally, dozens of private ranchers have now incorporated bison into
their ranching operations.
Previous Section -- Introduction
Return to Contents
Next Section -- Goats, Cabrie or Antelope (Pronghorn)