Bison, the first national mammal of the United States

The American bison is a genuine symbol of the United States.Last week, President Obama recognized America’s largest land mammal—the American bison— as the National Mammal of the United States.

The bison is joining the bald eagle, as a national animal symbol.

And while the bald eagle was adopted as the US national bird symbol in 1782, it took 234 years and nearly coming to extinction for bison to achieve the same.

The American bison is a genuine symbol of the United States as it represents our nation’s strength, history and culture. The animal has been roaming this country’s grasslands since prehistoric times and is closely tied to Native American tribal culture and history.

Bison were almost exterminated back in the 19th century by a combination of commercial hunting and slaughter, only to be saved by none other than Teddy Roosevelt, who formed the American Bison Society back in 1905 to save the endangered animal.

The practice of designating a national animal is common in many countries around the world. National animals are not only an emblem on a flag or currency, rather they symbolize nations as a whole- the traditions, the culture and the history.

IFAW applauds this decision as the bison truly deserves its spot on our landscape and in our history books. It is our hope that this kind of recognition will bring bison back from the precipice of extinction and pave the way to a full recovery in the wilds of America.


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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
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