NEW YORK (May 9, 2016) – The following is a statement from John Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President for Public Affairs:

“Today, history was made as the legislation to make the bison the national mammal of the United States was signed into law by President Obama.

“This marks the final step in a four-year effort, led by the Vote Bison Coalition, to honor the bison, which is culturally, historically and ecologically important to the United States.

“The bison is deeply connected to our history at WCS and the Bronx Zoo. William Hornaday, the first director of the Bronx Zoo, was part of an effort in the late 1800s and early 1900s that prevented the extinction of the bison. Many consider this our nation’s first successful conservation story. Still today, WCS works in the field and in our zoos on conservation efforts on behalf of the American bison.

“The adoption of bison as our National Mammal represents a validation of the many meaningful ways this animal represents America. As an ecological keystone, cultural bedrock and economic driver, the bison conveys values such as unity, resilience and commitment to healthy landscapes and communities.

“This effort to make the bison our national mammal is the culmination of a collaborative effort by a group of more than 60 organizations, tribes and businesses led by the Inter Tribal Buffalo Council, National Bison Association, and Wildlife Conservation Society, to officially commemorate the ecological, cultural, historical and economic contribution of bison. Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD), and Rep. José Serrano (D-NY) championed the bill in Congress, along with many co-sponsors from both parties.

“As the national mammal, bison will now join the oak (national tree – designated 2004), the rose (national floral emblem – designated 1998) and the bald eagle (national emblem – designated 1782 at the 2nd Continental Congress) as official symbols of America.

“WCS is proud to be part of this legacy, and we thank the President for signing it and the members of Congress who championed this bill and helped make it become law.


Here is full text of the act declaring bison the US National Mammal:


Here is additional background:

Blog by Cristian Samper:

Quotes from Coalition Leaders:

Release when Congress Passed the Bill: