Earlier this Spring the Obama Administration proclaimed that from now moving forward the bison (Bison bison bison) will be known as America’s national mammal. While there is no doubt the bison is a fitting and frankly deserving mammal to receive such a distinction, it is fair to say that the reverence and distinction is one with shallow roots that barely span a century of time. It wasn’t so long ago (less than a 100 years) that bison were slaughtered, reducing one of the most widespreak and iconic animals to ever call North America home to just a few individuals. Millions were slaughtered and left to rot in the sun while others were killed for their meat, hide and bone. Regardless of their use post death, the decline of bison mean the decline for many Native Americans who relied on the bison for their very existence.
While the persecution of bison has waned in place of federal recognition, there are still big steps that need to be taken as we craft our legacy of bison conservation and reverence in the United States. Check out a recent film by Alaska Dept. Of Fish And Game highlighting a reintroduction of wood bison back in the wilderness.