“In North America, the names are used interchangeably for the species Bison bison,” Ross MacPhee, Curator of the Department of Mammalogy at the American Museum of Natural History, tells mental_floss in an email. But though both bison and buffalo are bovids, or members of the cattle family, there are some definite differences between them. “Elsewhere—in non-English-speaking Europe, for example—a bison is the European Bison, Bison bonasus, a species very closely related to B. bison,” MacPhee says. “A buffalo is either a Cape Buffalo Syncerus (Africa), or Water Buffalo Bubalus (South Asia), neither of which are closely related to either kind of bison.” The North American species is composed of two subspecies, the plains bison, B. b. bison, and the wood bison.
Unfortunately Bison no longer roam freely in Alberta. This group below live in the ‘Buffalo Paddock’ just north of Waterton Park. Bison have been reintroduced into Banff National Park and are doing well. Read more here.