BISON .. an estimated 30 million bison roamed North America when the first Europeans arrived. The federal government endorsed the wholesale slaughter of bison herds primarily to weaken the North American Indian population by removing their main food source and to pressure them onto the reservations. By the end of the 19th century, bison was practically extinct on the continent.
The European bison (Bison bonasus), or 'wisent', is similar in appearance to its North American relative (Bison bison). Although smaller in size, it has the characteristic thickset body shape with a short neck and a pronounced shoulder hump. There is a longer mane of hair underneath the neck and also on the forehead.