President signs Hoeven bill designating bison America’s national mammal into law

President Barack Obama signed legislation into law on Monday that was introduced by U.S. Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) to designate the bison the national mammal.

Introduced by Hoeven and U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), the National Bison Legacy Act, S. 2032, also recognizes the historical, economic and cultural significance of the bison, as well as its importance to the heritage of Native American tribes.

“The bison is now officially the U.S. National Mammal, and rightfully so,” Hoeven said. “Bison are strong, proud and free, and a truly American icon with an incredible story. These noble creatures were brought back from the brink of extinction in our nation’s first great conservation effort. They are also an important spiritual symbol for many Native Americans. So, for all Americans, the bison is the right choice to be our national mammal. We look forward to honoring our new national mammal – hopefully with a live bison – at an induction ceremony in our nation’s capital.”

President Theodore Roosevelt and the American Bison Society headed up efforts to save the bison from extinction through a captive breeding program at the Bronx Zoo. This and similar programs brought bison back from the brink of extinction and reestablished their native habitats.

“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 species recovery efforts,” Heinrich said. “Bison are a uniquely American animal and are the embodiment of American strength and resilience. The bison has been an important part of our culture for many generations, especially in New Mexico, across the West, and in Indian Country. I hope that in my lifetime, thanks to a broad coalition of ranchers, wildlife advocates, and tribal nations, we will see bison return to the prominent place they once occupied in our nation’s shortgrass prairies.”

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