New Law: North American Bison Is National Mammal
In April of 2016, with no real fanfare, congress changed a policy which had stood for nearly 250 years. During that entire time, the bald eagle had been the sole symbol of the United States of America. Let me repeat that: For more than two centuries the eagle -- and the eagle alone -- held that distinction. Then, in April of this year, everything changed. That's when the U.S. congress mandated that the eagle be joined by the North American Bison as the national symbol for the United States of America. It's unfortunate (and sad) that something as big as this -- something that happens only once every 250 years -- rated nothing more than a sidebar on the national and local news. This is something that should have been talked about for days or even weeks, and instead, was relegated to the back of the newspaper. The bison (or buffalo, as most people know it) has a rich history in America. It has played a pivotal role in food, clothing and shelter for native American cultures for thousands of years. Bison also played a pivotal role in the "colonization" of the Western United States as well. It's a fact that during the Westward movement in America, the buffalo were hunted nearly to extinction. It was only an early environmental move by President Theodore Roosevelt that saved the bison from extinction. What started out as literally millions of bison roaming the plains from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains, and from the Canadian border to the Mexican border, were hunted to the point where there were only about 1,000 or so bison left in the world at the end of the 1800's. Today there are 4,000 - 5,000 bison in Yellowstone National Park, and close to 200,000 that live on public land and on private ranches like Intermountain Bison. The private sector has done more for the re-establishment of bison than the government ever could. The bison herds are strong and the gene pool sufficiently diverse to predict a healthy population well into the future. For more information on bison, you can go to www.intermountainbison.com and look at the history page and you can also look at the bison council page at www.thebisoncouncil.com. National geographic, the national parks pages, and the various environmental groups also have valuable information available. Try searching the web for "bison information" and you'll have enough options to keep you busy for a few hours. Be sure to leave your comments below, especially those letting us know what your thoughts are on the new law establishing the North American Bison as the national mammal.