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Texas State Bison Herd

Texas State Bison Herd at Caprock Canyons State Park Adopted: June 17, 2011
Texas state bison herd
Texas State Bison Herd: Herd at Caprock Canyons State Park
Photographs, prints, and posters

Texas State Bison Herd at Caprock Canyons State Park became the official state bison herd of Texas when Governor Scott Perry signed House Concurrent Resolution No. 86 on June 17, 2011.

H.C.R. No. 86


WHEREAS, The State of Texas has customarily recognized a variety of official symbols as tangible representations of the state's historical and cultural heritage; figuring prominently in that distinctive list are animals that played a central role in the rich Western heritage of Texas, including the longhorn and the American quarter horse; and

WHEREAS, Another deserving candidate for recognition is the bison, popularly known as the buffalo; after arriving in North America some 25,000 years ago, the bison adapted particularly well to the environment of the Great Plains; by the 1700s, as many as 60 million buffalo were living on the continent, and the lands that were to become Texas were among the areas roamed by the vast herds; and

WHEREAS, The animals were central to the livelihood of the Native Americans of the Great Plains, providing not only their main diet but also materials for shelter, clothing, and many other staples; the ample supply of bison and the hunting culture of the Plains tribes were not to last, however; with the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, it became possible to profitably ship bison hides and meat to eastern markets by rail, and in the next 15 years, buffalo hunters almost completely exterminated the herds; by 1885, fewer than 1,000 animals remained; and

WHEREAS, Fortunately, some Texans had the foresight to try and save this noble creature; Mary Ann "Molly" Goodnight, the wife of legendary Texas rancher Charles Goodnight, was so distressed by the rapid disappearance of the bison that she convinced her husband to begin capturing and protecting bison calves from the small number of wild animals that remained on the Southern Plains; he began to round up young bison in the 1870s in the northern Texas Panhandle, and the herd at Goodnight's JA Ranch eventually grew to about 250 head by the time Mr. Goodnight passed away in 1929; and

WHEREAS, The Goodnight bison herd became one of the five foundation herds in the United States from which the majority of surviving buffalo have developed; a number of animals directly descended from the Goodnight stock were donated to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 1996, and a subset of that group was determined to be a pure strain that had not been crossbred with bison from other areas; given a home at Caprock Canyons State Park, those buffalo and their offspring are today known as the Texas State Bison Herd and are notable for their strong genetic link to the original Southern Plains buffalo and because they continue to live in the area where their ancestors were first caught; and

WHEREAS, In both its historical significance and its enduring connections to Texas imagery and culture, the Texas State Bison Herd at Caprock Canyons State Park is indeed a fitting symbol for the Lone Star State; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the 82nd Legislature of the State of Texas hereby designate the Texas State Bison Herd at Caprock Canyons State Park as the official State Bison Herd of Texas.


"House Concurrent Resolution No. 86." The Texas Legislature Online. The State of Texas, 2011. Web. 29 Sep 2011. .

Texas Parks & Wildlife Video from Caprock Canyons State Park

Additional Information

Caprock Canyons State Park & Trailway: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

American Bison Society: Official website of the American Bison Society founded in 1905.

At Home on the Range Again: Article by Russell Roe, Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine (March 2011).

American Buffalo: Spirit of a Nation: PBS Nature series.

Bison bison (American bison): Smithsonian Museum of Natural History - North American Mammals.

Bison bison (American bison): The University of Michigan Museum of Zoology: Animal Diversity Web.

Bos bison - (Linnaeus, 1758), American bison: A network connecting science with conservation - NatureServe Explorer: An Online Encyclopedia of Life.

Bison bison (Linnaeus, 1758): Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) Here you will find authoritative taxonomic information on plants, animals, fungi, and microbes of North America and the world.

State Mammals: Complete list of official state mammals from NETSTATE.COM.

More symbols & emblems: Complete list of official Texas state symbols from NETSTATE.COM.

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