Bison Proposed as National Mammal of the U.S. - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Bison Proposed as National Mammal of the U.S.

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A bison could be joining the same ranks as the bald eagle, several lawmakers including some from North Dakota have proposed that a bison become the National Mammal of the U.S.

Senator John Hoeven along with Senator Heidi Heitkamp support the bill. Senator Hoeven says the animal has a lot of history in the country and even influenced President Teddy Roosevelt to visit the state. Senator Hoeven and South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson introduced the National Bison Legacy Act Wednesday.

Bison 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. Bison now exist in all 50 states in public and private herds.

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. 

The bill has 12 original cosponsors in the Senate, including Senators John Thune (R-S.D.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), as well as the support of 11 bipartisan cosponsors in the House of Representatives and more than 50 organizations, businesses and tribes in the Vote Bison Coalition.
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