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Bison: National Mammal, Says Senate

Dec 13, 2015 09:24 PM EST
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The American bison received major attention recently, when the Senate unanimously passed legislation (and it is a bipartisan bill) designating the bison as the United States' national mammal, according to a release.

"The bison, like the bald eagle, has for many years been a symbol of America for its strength, endurance and dignity, reflecting the pioneer spirit of our country," said North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven, in the release.

The senators also noted that 40 million bison once ran the prairies of North America, but fewer than 1,000 of the animal were left by the late 1800s. Now there are public and private bison herds in all 50 states, as a statement noted.

So, what was the saving action for bison after the overhunting of the 1800s? In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt and an organization called the American Bison Society led a movement to save bison, establishing a captive breeding program at the Bronx Zoo. A few years later, the program and a few others like it were establishing bison into its native habitat, according to a release

Bison are also viewed by many Native American tribes as a sacred, spiritual animal symbolizing their heritage. They therefore have private bison herds on tribal lands in the West. 

There are other ways to see American interest in the wooly, hooved creature: The Department of the Interior's seal depicts a bison, and the states of Wyoming, Kansas and Oklahoma have the bison as their state mammal. Nov. 1 was also voted National Bison Day in 2014, by the Senate.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

-Follow Catherine on Twitter @TreesWhales

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