- The American bison is a popular symbol across the U.S: it is already the official state animal or mammal of three U.S. states, appears on two state flags, and is the official mascot of several sports teams.
- Last week, the U.S. House and Senate passed the ‘National Bison Legacy Act’, which designates the bison as the official national mammal of the U.S.
- The bill now has to be signed by President Obama for the bison to become the official national mammal.
Once abundant, the American bison (Bison bison) was nearly hunted to extinction in the 19th century. Now, the big furry animal is set to join the bald eagle, the oak tree and the rose as a Unites States national symbol.
On Tuesday last week, the U.S. House passed the ‘National Bison Legacy Act’, which designates the bison as the official national mammal of the U.S. The senate, too, approved the bill and voted in favor of the iconic animal on Thursday. The bill now has to be signed by President Obama.
“The National Bison Legacy Act is a milestone in a long journey by WCS, its flagship Bronx Zoo, and many other partners to prevent the bison from going extinct and to recognize the bison’s ecological, cultural, historical and economic importance to the United States,” Cristián Samper, WCS President and CEO, said in a statement.
The American bison is a popular symbol across the U.S. It is the official state animal or mammal of three U.S. states — Kansas, Oklahoma, and Wyoming – and appears on two state flags. A bison has also been depicted on the official seal of the Department of the Interior since 1912, and is a mascot of various sports teams in the U.S.
The National Bison Legacy Act recognizes the bison as a “historical symbol of the United States”. It lays down how the animal was “integrally linked with the economic and spiritual lives of many Indian tribes through trade and sacred ceremonies”, and points out the role of the Indian tribes in bison restoration in the country.
“The buffalo has had a special place in the lives of tribal people since time immemorial and played important roles in our culture, religion and lifestyle,” Jim Stone, Executive Director of the Inter Tribal Buffalo Council, said in the statement. “Now buffalo have become a part of the fabric of tribal life once again, created the foundation for an economic movement based on healthy food choices and provided conservation groups opportunities to expand the habitat for the species.”