The United States House of Representatives voted this week to name the North American bison as the national mammal of the country, giving it a recognition many believe it deserves.
The bill in process, called the National Bison Legacy Act, passed the House, and will go to the Senate and then to the President for signing and aims to honor the history and the historical significance of the animal.
The bison plays an important role in American history, maybe more so than any other native species.
The Bison Act was drafted with support from both political parties and from both the House and the Senate. The reason for the choice, according to Rep. William Clay, is straightforward: “The American bison is an enduring symbol of strength, native American culture and the boundless Western wildness.”
Elevating the status of the Bison may help to raise awareness and prevent extinction for the amazing mammal. Once roaming across the Western plains in the millions, bison were slaughtered in mass during Westward expansion, leaving the population in the thousands by the turn of the 20th century.
The bison population is now estimated to be nearly a half million, and many groups are involved in protecting and celebrating the bison.
The Senate is expected to make a decision later this week.