New York – August 16, 2012 – Who says bison can’t vote? The Vote Bison coalition, which is campaigning to make the bison the National Mammal of the United States, has released a homemade video showing that even the candidate itself can cast a ballot. The humorous video features a voting station and a surprised attendant recording the vote cast by the proposed national mammal. As the Krista Branch song “I am America” plays in the background, a voiceover at the end of the 40-second video says “I am the American bison, and I approved this message.” The video is the latest step taken by the coalition to build support for the National Bison Legacy Act which was recently introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. William Lacy Clay ( D-MO) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), and released in May in the Senate by U.S. Sens. Michael Enzi (R-WY) and Tim Johnson (D-SD).
Thanks in part to more than 67,000 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. To date, 17 Senators and 4 Representatives spanning states from New York to Hawaii have endorsed the bill. The coalition has launched the video as a reminder for people who have not yet visited www.votebison.orgto do so and ask their representative to become a co-sponsor of the bill. “We’ve been thrilled with the enthusiastic ‘turn-out’ for this campaign from both the public and Members of Congress,” said Wildlife Conservation Society Executive Vice President of Public Affairs John Calvelli. “As we see in the video, even the bison themselves are getting involved. We’d like all Americans to follow their lead and ask their representatives to support an All-American icon.” 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. Notes on the Candidate The bison—America’s largest land mammal—is celebrated for its cultural relevance and power to inspire. In the early 1900’s, 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. The Society 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. 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. 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. Bison currently appear on two state flags, on the seal of the Department of the Interior, and on U.S. currency. In addition, bison have been adopted as the state mammal of Wyoming, Oklahoma, and Kansas. The coalition believes that the bison is the nation’s most culturally recognizable animal and as such deserves recognition through designation and celebration. Based to some extent on the health benefits derived from consumption of bison as a red meat source, bison are an economic driver as well. The total value of privately owned bison on more than 4,000 bison ranches in the U.S. was estimated to exceed $250 million in 2011, creating jobs and contributing to the nation’s food security. Current list of sponsors/co-sponsors 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), 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), and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). The public is asked to follow the national campaign and be involved in the passage of the bill by visiting www.votebison.org.
Contact: Stephen Sautner – 718-220-3682; firstname.lastname@example.orgScott Smith – 718-220-3698; email@example.com
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. Visit: www.wcs.org. 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. undefined