Western lawmakers want to elevate the Plains bison to a status similar to that of the iconic bald eagle with legislation to declare the burly beasts America's "national mammal."

Fans of bison are lobbying Congress to declare America's largest land mammal the "national mammal" -- putting it right up there with the bald eagle as an American icon. But bison have their critics, as well as competition: killer whales are mammals, too, and then there's that other widespread mammal: humans.

"The North American Bison is an enduring symbol of America, its people and a way of life," Sen. Michael Enzi, R-Wyo., said in a statement Friday announcing the "National Bison Legacy Act."

"Throughout history, the bison has been the center of the economic and spiritual lives of American Indians and is an important historical symbol of the United States," added co-sponsor Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D.

They introduced the bill at the request of an alliance among the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Intertribal Buffalo Council and the National Bison Association.

"The bison is the nation’s most culturally recognizable animal and as such deserves recognition through designation and celebration," the alliance noted. "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."

Tens of millions of bison, or buffalo, once roamed North America, but the species dwindled to about 1,000 by the early 1900s. The numbers are back to an estimated 20,000 in the wild today. In addition, about 500,000 commercial bison are on 4,000 ranches.

Photo Credit David Burnett

In recent years, efforts have been made to put wild bison on more parts of the West -- including the transfer in March of about 60 Yellowstone bison to Montana's Fort Peck Reservation.

But the symbolic act would not provide added protections for wild bison, which have their enemies.

In Montana, The Associated Press noted, livestock producers and property advocates have filed lawsuits to stop free-roaming bison, arguing they tear down fences, spread disease and compete with domestic cattle for grass.

And Boulder, Colo., this week rebuffed billionaire Ted Turner's donation of a bison herd for public viewing. It cited cost concerns and public opposition.

John Calvelli, spokesman for the Wildlife Conservation Society, told the AP that the effort is meant to transcend such issues.

"This isn't about getting into the middle of these issues of bison and property rights," he said. "No matter what political stripe you come from, we can all agree on the important role that bison have played."

Photo GregRob

VIDEO Senators seek to name bison 'national mammal'

Responses to "Should Bison Be The ‘National Mammal’ of the US? (Video)"

  1. I believe in two national mammals as I can't pick one-the wolf and the bison

  2. lolapower says:

    I want the bison to be the national mammal of the US !

  3. Unknown says:

    I would think making it our national mammal would entitle it to some form of NATIONAL protection that would over ride a state that willingly wants to endanger them.

  4. Unknown says:

    I think if native peoples want to care for a native animal, they should be allowed to do so. Having gone eye-to-eye with a buffalo in Yellowstone, I have great sympathy for their plight.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The Buffalo Is A National Symbol Of The American Indian Culture & I Believe It Should Be Perserved. The Govt. Thought Enough To At One Time Engrave It On Our Nickel Currency, So Why Not Nationalize The Prtection Of The Bison !!

  6. Anonymous says:

    All our animals should be considered our national animals..Protect them from cruelty, profit and torture and hunting!!! We no longer need to hunt for food so there's no excuse for killing any of them!!!!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Yes they should be . Would love to see this happen.

  8. sharon thoma says:

    there should be nothing to think about the buff should be protected and cared for. Yes is the only thing to be said. and do it.They belong on this land and it should have been done many many years ago:

  9. Doug Stakely says:

    Yes, Make it a National Symbol. Out of Respect for The Native Americans, My People

  10. Anonymous says:

    Sure thing!

  11. Anonymous says:

    We are the only country to have Bison? Why would it not be the National Mammal?

  12. ONE WHO CARES says:

    it is hard to pick between the wolf and the bison.
    they need to leave the bison alone and let them multiply.
    What America reallllllly needs is to have a Native American Indian for Comander & Chief
    Lets send our best Native American Chief to washington to be President.

  13. Anonymous says:

    When considering that the Bison, wolf, beaver and a multitude of other mammals were here in the thousands prior to the conquering nations that landed here, I say we do all we can to make the Bison the national symbol. Like the eagle, it still will be exploited. Just as was done by the fur traders, and pioneers and trailblazers who wiped out thousands of the wolves, bison and other mammals that were even plentiful and huge here in the Northwest. Once the bison roamed here in the great state of Oregon in the thousands, along with beaver more plentiful to count. Wolves as well. Now, no Bison, no wolves, very few beaver, less and less deer, elk and antelope. Lets try very hard to put things back to the way they should be. Sorry ranchers, but cattle, sheep, goats and pigs were brought to this continent by you ancestors. Bison were here before. They were the staple food of and for the Native population. LEAVE IT ALONE, and make it the National mammal I say.

  14. Unknown says:

    All animals witch live on a continent where ever are the national species,so all need to be protected and taken care off.
    Don't let any die out. . .

  15. Anonymous says:

    Yes the bison should be our "national mammal" let them run free in the National Parks, national forests, private reserves and like wolves stop slaughtering them!!!

  16. Anonymous says:

    Its proven that the bison are no threat to cattle, The only reason Elk herds are not cut back is because the ranchers can make money on hunting them. The only protection the Bison have are from private ranches. Leave the Bison alone. If they become a American mammal maybe they would hae more protection

  17. Anonymous says:

    it should be. so many people say "wolf wolf wolf it has to be" and give reason.
    but wolves are found in Canada, Russia, Europe. Subspecies of the grey wolf are all over the world. The American Bison is not the same as the animals in Europe. It is not a cape buffalo. it is unique(not as unique as the pronghorn antalope)

    sure, there are no Lions in countries who's animals are lions, and Unicorns do not exist. But this animal is more unique to this contentent.

    then again, wolves do sometimes have dark side aspects that we could relate to. so many people want to lynch illegal immigrents. just like wolves when another canine crosses into their territory.

  18. Anonymous says:

    i had typed out a bunch of things but I hit publish and something happend.

    to all of you who want all native speciese of America to be the national animal and protected, you do know how many kinds of animal there are, right? I guess some people see the deer tick deserving of protection and becoming a symbol along with hundreds of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians, arachnids, insects, mulloxs.

    also, saying the sheep and cattle do not belong here, well look at the history of our wonderful "last of the wild horses"

  19. Anonymous says:

    Well actually the Europeans have something they call Wissent and they resemble our 'Bison' but are different (google an image of one) anyway all their Wissent were extinct in the wild by the 1920s in 1959 I believe that's was the year, there were 50 some in captivity so they bred them together and now all the Wissent across Europe are descended from those 50 some Wissent..

  20. Ursula says:

    We are all lucky to still be able to see some Bison herds roaming the USA, no thanks to the Illegals entering from Europe. I still remember a photo that was taken of a huge mountain of Bison bones with an \ human jackass sitting on top. Disgusting! I'm all for the Bison for being our national mammal!!

  21. As long as we can continue to EAT them, treat them with respect, Never Ever poison them with GMO feeds or injections. Do what GOD Wants!

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