In their prime an estimated 30 million plains bison roamed North America, but over the last two centuries they were replaced. More than 100 million domestic cattle are now the dominant grazing herbivore and they have essentially destroyed the natural prairie landscape. Less than 5% of the once 68 million hectare tall-grass prairie ecosystem remains. Although bison and domestic cattle are both bovids, their impact on the ecosystem is considerably different. When compared to bison, cattle spend roughly twice as much time grazing, move significantly slower, require more access to water, are not picky eaters, and will typically move to the lowest possible terrain. The bison’s diverse grazing patterns, tolerance for varied terrain, and selective diet actually have positive effects on the ecosystem - and what they leave behind helps out as well.
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