Buffalo vs. Bison


One question that we often receive is: “What is the difference between buffalo and bison?" Quite simply, both names refer to the same animal. Understandably, this has caused some confusion, but both terms are used interchangeably, and both are accepted.

buffalo in a field of prairie grass

For some background, the name buffalo is thought to have originated from European explorers who confused the animal they found in the New World with animals they were more familiar with - African or Asian Buffalo. As with the misnaming of Native Americans (Indians), the name stuck. Our National Mammal was only given the name bison after European scientists studied the skeletons years later. Today, the word buffalo is still often used for the American Bison. For example; Buffalo Gap National Grasslands, Buffalo Bill, the Buffalo Nickel, Buffalo Bills and Buffalo, South Dakota… etc.

There are two sub-species of American Bison (Bison bison). The first is the Plains Bison - originally found in huge numbers on the Great Plains. The second is the Wood Bison, which lived in smaller herds on the woody edges of the Great Plains and are now mostly found in the forests of Central Canada.

At Wild Idea Buffalo Company, we raise 100% Grass-Fed Buffalo (Bison bison) that roam much like their ancestors did on the Great Plains of South Dakota and long before the names got muddled.

Learn more about how we raise our buffalo (or "bison" if you prefer).


  • Posted on by Doug Williams

    Good explanation. But, my fellow Wild Idea lovers, beware of those out there who are capitalizing on this confusion and doing so to the detriment of your health, Earth’s health and yes, even Wild Idea’s health. I am referring to those who push “buffalo” and want you to believe it’s Bison bison you are consuming.There is a GOOD chance it’s water buffalo raised in a stinking, mucky feedlot. I fell for it at a well known Roadhouse just outside of Santa Fe. A western “Buffalo Burger” turned out to be NOT bison. So…ask BEFORE you order and before you purchase at the store. Insist on the REAL thing: properly raised and harvested Bison bison. You know…“Fool me once…” And cheers for Wild Buffalo Co.!

  • Posted on by David

    Thank you Dan for the clarification.
    Hope you and your family and your team members stay safe.

    Best regards

  • Posted on by Sonny Skyhawk

    Let there be no confusion, whether described as bison or buffalo, these buffalo are raised on natural grasses versus feedlot fed bison. Big difference in taste and process.

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