Hoeven Legislation Honors the Bison as the U.S. National Mammal

Senator Visits National Buffalo Museum in Jamestown to Showcase Cultural, Historical Significance of Bison

JAMESTOWN, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today visited the National Buffalo Museum in Jamestown to showcase the historical and cultural significance of the bison as part of his efforts to make the bison the national mammal of the United States. Hoeven and Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) introduced the National Bison Legacy Act, legislation to designate the American bison as the national mammal of the United States. Hoeven presented the museum with an official copy of the legislation, which was approved by the Senate in December.

“The National Buffalo Museum does a great job of telling the story of the bison and teaching new generations about these majestic creatures,” said Hoeven. “Like the bald eagle, the bison is a symbol of America for its strength, endurance and dignity. They played an important role in our history and reflect the pioneer spirit of America. It only makes sense that the bison serve as our national mammal.”

The National Buffalo Museum is housed in a log building at the Frontier Village in Jamestown and includes exhibitions to foster awareness of the cultural and historical significance of the North American bison. The museum also maintains a herd of 25-30 bison, including White Cloud, a rare albino buffalo.

The National Bison Legacy Act recognizes the historical, cultural and economic significance of the bison, which is the largest land mammal in America. The legislation was unanimously passed by the Senate. Hoeven continues working with members of the House of Representatives to pass the House bill, which has been introduced and has 13 bipartisan cosponsors.

More than 40 million bison once roamed across most of North America. But by the late 1800s, fewer than one thousand bison remained. 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 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt and the American Bison Society led an effort to save bison from extinction by establishing a captive breeding program at the Bronx Zoo. Within a few years, the program, and others like it, were already successfully establishing bison back into its native habitat.

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 live 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.