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President Obama Declares the Buffalo to be the United States National Mammal

Fantastic news for bison (also called buffalo). Recently, the bison was selected as the official mammal of the United States. Whether you lean left, or right I think we can all agree this is good news for the buffalo.

On Monday, President Barack Obama signed off on the National Bison Legacy Act, a new law making the American bison the first national mammal of the United States. The bill is the result of a lobbying effort from conservationists, ranchers and Native American tribes, and follows a long and controversial history that saw the bison nearly go extinct during the 19th century. This is big news to this author after a recent trip to the Black Hill in South Dakota.

The National Bison Legacy Act, signed by President Obama on May 9, describes the bison as “a historical symbol of the United States” and an animal “integrally linked with the economic and spiritual lives of many Indian tribes.” The bill was previously passed by Congress in April after winning bipartisan support. “Bison are a uniquely American animal and are the embodiment of American strength and resilience,” New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich said at the time. “Recognition of our new national mammal will bring a new source of pride for Americans—just like the bald eagle—and also bring greater attention to ongoing conservation and species recovery efforts.

The bison’s “national mammal” designation is entirely symbolic—the animals won’t receive any new protections under the law—but supporters believe it will boost efforts to reintroduce them into the wild. The Inter Tribal Buffalo Council, for example, is working to move surplus bison from state parks onto more than one million acres of Indian land. “The recognition of the buffalo as the National Mammal shows the cross cultural stature of this iconic animal and for tribes will allow us to expand our work on reintroducing buffalo into our day to day lives,” said Jim Stone, the group’s executive director. “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.”

 

Here is a picture that this author took from the steering wheel in South Dakota.

As a travel junkie, the Black Hills are a must visit.

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The Wildlife Conservation Society executive vice president of public affairs, John Calvelli described the new law as a validation of the bison’s influence on 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,” he said. “Bison takes a place alongside the bald eagle as a national symbol to be revered.”