For those who dream of a home on the range, where the buffalo roam, think again. In some parts of the western United States, it’s more likely that the plains would be populated with beefalo, the hybrid offspring of buffalo and domesticated cattle.
Farmers and ranchers first started to crossbreed the two species in the late 1800s in an attempt to produce hardier animals that could withstand severe winter weather. To be considered a true beefalo, the hybrid animal’s genetic makeup is actually only three-eighths buffalo. A higher percentage of bison genetics makes the animal more of a bison hybrid than a beefalo.
The success of crossbreeding the two species has had its downsides in recent years. As of 2015, park officials are trying to decide what to do with the 600-plus wild beefalo that now roam the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Scarce water supplies are quickly drained by the large, thirsty animals, and the ground is easily compacted and damaged under the vast weight of the herd.