Follow the Trail of the North American Buffalo

A multimedia look at the history and future of

America’s National Mammal

January 29, 2018- Just posted on the ESRI Story Maps home page!

Take an online multimedia journey, following the North American buffalo from the Ice Age to today and into the future. Design a personal adventure to explore the trail of America’s National Mammal, and share it with the world!

“On the Trail of the North American Buffalo” introduces people across the globe to the continent’s largest land mammal and inspires exploration of special places from northern Mexico to Canada. This all-volunteer, non-commercial effort seeks to engage and inspire people to protect North America’s buffalo, vanishing prairies, and cultural history.

“If you had to pick an animal that was going to be the soul of your existence, the one thing that made life possible, you would be hard pressed to choose better than the North American Plains bison….” Jack W. Brink, Imagining Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump

CoverFollowTheTrailThe North American buffalo emerged from a major Ice Age extinction event. They spread across the continent and became the core of native peoples’ culture and survival for thousands of years. An estimated 30 million animals roamed the prairies and northern forests. Then, advancing technology and westward expansion drove buffalo to the brink of extinction.

Buffalo recovery took more than a few grand speeches. There are colorful and iconic buffalo saviors, but no saints. Profiteers as well as visionaries brought buffalo back from the brink. Americans don’t often hear the story of how a “great coup” by Canada ignited buffalo conservation in the United States.

Over a century later, the tide is rising for buffalo, but recovery is not a done deal. Many herds would disappear without ongoing conservation efforts. Buffalo carry historic baggage and face challenges in the future.

Modern buffalo saviors include tribes, volunteers, managers, scientists, field crews, commercial ranchers, and the everyday traveler with a camera and a social media account.

This package gives everyone resources to explore the world of buffalo online and in person. People can find places to view buffalo and visit ancient kill sites, museums, interpretive centers and zoos. They can check out online resources, books, and organizations devoted to the Great Plains and buffalo.


People can inspire others to explore by posting photos of their favorite to a crowdsource story map.


Today, everyone can be a buffalo savior, inspiring people across the world to create a healthy future for a wild icon of North America’s natural heritage.