As of the summer of 2012, America's last wild buffalo population is
about 4,200. Subpopulations number 2,600 bison in the Northern Range
and 1,600 bison in the Central Interior.
This is a small number when compared to the tens of millions that used to roam wild across
North America. It's frequently and mistakenly argued that 3,000 is too many buffalo, that the number
exceeds the ecological carrying capacity of Yellowstone's habitat, thereby justifying the on-going
buffalo slaughter under the Interagency Bison Management Plan. A recent study using scientific
modeling suggests buffalo "have not reached a theoretical food-limited carrying
capacity of 6200 in Yellowstone National Park."
Plumb et al. 2009. Carrying capacity, migration, and dispersal in Yellowstone bison. Biological Conservation 142: 2377-2387. (PDF, 763kb, 11 pages)
Yellowstone National Park. August 8, 2012. Yellowstone Releases Summer Bison Population Estimate.
(See our Overpopulation
Fact Sheet for more info)