WASHINGTON (Sept. 21, 2016) – The fourth time is the charm for the American bison – our national mammal – as the U.S. Senate for the fourth time in four years agreed to a resolution designating National Bison Day as the first Saturday in November, which falls this year on November 5th.
National Bison Day has become an annual celebration of the ecological, cultural, historical and economic contribution of the U.S. national mammal, the American bison. Similar resolutions were passed in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Native American tribes, bison producers, conservationists, zoos, sportsmen and women, educators and other public and private partners commemorate the National Bison Day by hosting events celebrating bison in their communities in dozens of states and participating on social media.
Earlier this year, President Obama signed the National Bison Legacy Act on May 9, 2016, making the North American bison the official National Mammal of the United States. The signing of that legislation was a milestone for an animal that once faced extinction. The bison has played central role in America’s history, helped to shape the ecology of the Great Plains, contributes to the U.S. economy, and holds cultural and spiritual significance for Native Americans. Today, bison live in all 50 states and serves as a symbol of unity, resilience and healthy lifestyles and communities.
The National Bison Day resolution was led by Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY) and co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of senators. The effort is supported by the American Bison Coalition, a group of more than 60 organizations and businesses led by the Inter-Tribal Buffalo Council, National Bison Association, and Wildlife Conservation Society.
Said John Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President of Public Affairs: “There can be no denying that 2016 is a great year for the American Bison, which became the U.S. National Mammal in May and now the U.S. Senate has once again officially declared National Bison Day which will be November 5th this year. At WCS, we are proud to help lead the American Bison Coalition whose members celebrate this magnificent species which once faced extinction but contributes so much to our country.”
Keith Aune, WCS Senior Conservationist and Bison Program Director, said: “This year’s National Bison Day will be extra meaningful as we now recognize bison as our national mammal. Bison have been part of the American landscape for many thousands of years and have shaped the ecological function of the Great Plains.”
Jim Stone, Executive Director of the Inter-Tribal Buffalo Council, said: “Once again, Indian Country is looking forward to celebrate National Bison Day as a testament to the iconic nature of the bison. Now as a national symbol, the standing of the bison in the eyes of the country is ever increasing and is fulfilling the dreams of tribal communities.”
Dave Carter, Executive Director of the National Bison Association, said: “National Bison Day rightfully honors this magnificent animal, our national mammal, and helps focus attention on the work being done by private ranchers, conservationists and tribal leaders to bring bison back to pastures and rangelands across the country.”
The bison, North America’s largest land mammal, have an important role in America’s history, culture and economy. Before being nearly wiped from existence by westward expansion, bison roamed across most of North America. The species is acknowledged as the first American conservation success story, having been brought back from the brink of extinction by a concerted effort of ranchers, conservationists and politicians to save the species in the early 20th century. In 1907, President Teddy Roosevelt and the American Bison Society began this effort by shipping 15 animals by train from the Bronx Zoo to Oklahoma’s Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. Many Native American tribes revere bison as a sacred and spiritual symbol of their heritage and maintain private bison herds on tribal lands throughout the West. Bison now exist in all 50 states in public and private herds, providing recreation opportunities for wildlife viewers in zoos, refuges and parks and sustaining the multimillion dollar bison ranching and production business.