Bison became America’s National Mammal in 2016
WASHINGTON (November 1, 2017) – For the fifth time in five years, the U.S. Senate has passed a resolution marking National Bison Day as the first Saturday in November, which falls this year on November 4th. The resolution comes a year after bison were adopted as the U.S. National Mammal through an act of Congress.
The National Bison Day resolution was led by Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) and Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 15 senators. The effort is supported by the American Bison Coalition, a group of more than 105 organizations and businesses led by the Inter-Tribal Buffalo Council, National Bison Association, and Wildlife Conservation Society.
National Bison Day has become an annual celebration of the ecological, cultural, historical and economic contribution of the U.S. national mammal, the American bison. Similar resolutions were passed every year since 2013. Native American tribes, bison producers, conservationists, zoos, sportsmen and women, educators and other public and private partners commemorate the National Bison Day by hosting events celebrating bison in their communities in dozens of states and participating on social media.
Senator Hoeven said: “Our national mammal, the bison, is a true American icon. The bison’s incredible story includes one of the most remarkable and successful examples of conservation efforts as they were brought back from the brink of extinction to flourish again. Many Native Americans hold the bison as an important spiritual symbol, and it holds important historical and cultural significance for our nation. That’s why we worked to designate the bison as our national mammal and on National Bison Day we commemorate all that the bison means to our nation.”
Senator Heinrich said: “On National Bison Day, we celebrate a uniquely American animal that embodies our nation’s strength and resilience. I was proud to help pass the bipartisan National Bison Legacy Act, which recognized the bison as our national mammal. The bison has been an important part of our culture for generations, especially in New Mexico, across the western prairies, and in Indian Country. I hope that in my lifetime, thanks to a broad coalition of ranchers, wildlife advocates, and tribal nations, we will see both large production herds and large wild herds filling their natural role in America’s prairies.”
Last year, President Obama signed the National Bison Legacy Act on May 9, 2016, making the American bison the official National Mammal of the United States. The signing of that legislation was a milestone for an animal that once faced extinction. The bison has played central role in America’s history, helped to shape the ecology of the Great Plains, contributes to the U.S. economy, and holds cultural and spiritual significance for Native Americans. Today, bison live in all 50 states and serves as a symbol of unity, resilience and healthy lifestyles and communities.
John Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President of Public Affairs, said: “Bison, our national mammal, is revered as part of our American past, present and future. National Bison Day is a day for all Americans to come together around something that unites us, and I thank the U.S. Senate for designating this year’s celebration on November 4. At WCS, we recognize the bison’s ecological and economic value through our work at the Bronx Zoo and through the American landscape to conserve bison.”
Arnell Abold, Executive Director of the Inter-Tribal Buffalo Council, said: “National Bison Day truly celebrates the beauty and reverence of the bison. Bison have revived from near extinction to growing and flourishing bison herds throughout our country. The significance of the bison for the Indian people not only represents a true return of the bison, but it also represents the preservation of our culture and spirituality for our people and future generations. May the bison continue to grace the landscape of our country and our lives.”
Dave Carter, Executive Director of the National Bison Association, said: “It's fitting that the National Day honoring our National mammal comes at the beginning of the season of giving thanks. This magnificent animal gives all of us many reasons to be thankful.”
The bison, North America’s largest land mammal, have an important role in America’s history, culture and economy. Before being nearly wiped from existence by westward expansion, bison roamed across most of North America. The species is acknowledged as the first American conservation success story, having been brought back from the brink of extinction by a concerted effort of ranchers, conservationists and politicians to save the species in the early 20th century. In 1907, President Teddy Roosevelt and the American Bison Society began this effort by shipping 15 animals by train from the Bronx Zoo to Oklahoma’s Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. Many Native American tribes revere bison as a sacred and spiritual symbol of their heritage and maintain private bison herds on tribal lands throughout the West. Bison now exist in all 50 states in public and private herds, providing recreation opportunities for wildlife viewers in zoos, refuges and parks and sustaining the multimillion dollar bison ranching and production business.