Bronx, N.Y. – October 1, 2012 – The Vote Bison coalition, which is campaigning to make the bison the National Mammal of the United States, issued a call for teen-created videos that tell Americans why the bison deserves their votes. The coalition is asking teens (ages 13-19) to create and submit a 30-60 second public service announcement (PSA) encouraging Americans to urge Congress to enact the National Bison Legacy Act, which would make bison our National Mammal. The deadline to submit videos is Monday, October 15 by 5:00p.m. EDT. One winner will be chosen from each of three age categories: 13-14, 15-16, and 17-19. Winners will receive a $100 American Express gift card and have their PSAs featured on VoteBison.org. As campaign ads take over the airwaves this election season, the Vote Bison PSA Contest provides a chance to involve young people in the political process and may serve as an excellent school or class project. Full contest details and rules are available at www.votebison.org/contest.
The PSA contest is the latest step taken by the coalition to build support for the National Bison Legacy Act which was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Michael Enzi (R-WY) and Tim Johnson (D-SD) and in the House of Representatives by Reps. William Lacy Clay (D-MO) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE). The National Bison Legacy Act acknowledges the efforts that Native Americans, bison producers, conservationists, sportsmen, educators and other public and private partners, are making in recognizing bison for its cultural, economical and ecological significance across the American landscape. The coalition is led by the Inter-Tribal Buffalo Council, National Bison Association, and Wildlife Conservation Society. In August, the Vote Bison coalition released its own campaign ad, featuring the candidate itself casting a vote for national mammal, closing with the familiar tag-line, “I am the American bison, and I approved this message.” The video can be seen here: http://youtu.be/C8pG7tIHfo0. Notes on the Candidate In the early 1900s, bison numbered less than 1,100 individuals after ranging across North America in the tens of millions a century earlier. In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt, William Hornaday of WCS (then the New York Zoological Society), and others convened a group of diverse stakeholders at the Bronx Zoo in New York City and formed the American Bison Society (ABS). ABS developed a new conservation ethic and helped save bison from extinction. In 1907, fifteen Bronx–born bison were sent by the Society to the first big game refuge in the U.S.—the Wichita Reserve Bison Refuge in Oklahoma. Today, bison number in the hundreds of thousands in the United States and are found in state and national parks, wildlife refuges, and on tribal and private lands. The coalition is asking the public to “vote bison,” while highlighting the many ways that bison have shaped America’s history, economy, culture, and landscapes. The public in turn has the opportunity to follow the national campaign and be involved in the passage of the bill by visitingwww.votebison.org. Among other findings, the National Bison Legacy Act recognizes that bison are integrally linked to Native American culture, are a keystone species that benefit grassland ecosystems, hold significant value for private producers and rural communities, and are considered a symbol of the American West. The coalition plans to celebrate the first Thursday of each November as National Bison Day, beginning this year on November 1. Thanks in part to more than 76,000 emails sent by the public to Congress in support of the legislation, the race to designate bison as the national mammal is quickly becoming a stampede. Supporters of the legislation now include Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY), Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE), Rep. Peter King (R-NY), Rep. John Kline (R-MN), Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD), Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Rep. José Serrano (D-NY), Sen. John Thune (R-SD), Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Rep. Don Young (R-AK). For more information or to schedule interviews regarding the campaign to make bison the national mammal, please contact Chip Weiskotten at 202-624-8172 or Scott Smith at 718-220-3698 or go to www.votebison.org.
The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world’s largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. The Inter Tribal Buffalo Council is a federally chartered Tribal organization dedicated to the restoration of buffalo to Tribal lands in manner that is compatible with their spiritual and cultural beliefs and practices. ITBC has been working on this mission since 1992. Visit: itbcbison.com. The National Bison Association brings together all stakeholders to celebrate the heritage of the American bison, to educate, and to create a sustainable future for our industry.