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Bison: It's What's For Dinner

A bison rests on a hilltop near Avalon, Calif., on Catalina Island. Bison were imported to the Island for the sake of a movie in which they never appeared. Long thought by some to be genetically pure, the wild bison of Santa Catalina Island in fact have traces of cow DNA, the first genetic analysis of the animals found. (Image credit: AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

There used to be tens of millions of bison ranging from Alaska to Mexico, but they were nearly wiped out by commercial hunting and habitat loss.

Fewer than 10 percent of U.S. residents know how many bison remain in the United States, according to a new Wildlife Conservation Society survey.

So: About 500,000 bison remain in the United States, mostly on private ranches. Only about 9,000 plains bison are considered free-ranging, in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

The American Bison Society wanted you to know all this, and also this: In the survey, 40 percent said they have tried bison, and 83 percent thought it was as good or better-tasting than beef.

That suggests that "one road to bison conservation may be a pragmatic, market-based approach, namely to grow sustainable markets for wild, free-ranging bison meat," said Kent Redford of the WCS.

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This article is from the LiveScience Water Cooler: What people are talking about in the world of science and beyond.

Live Science Staff
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