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Bison Declared National Mammal

The North American bison was declared as the national mammal of the United States by President Barack Obama on Monday.

The Hill reports:

This “majestic animal” now “joins the ranks of the Bald Eagle as the official symbol of our country,” the Department of the Interior said in a blog post following the announcement.

The department noted that bison are the largest mammals in North America, with males weighing up to 2,000 pounds and females, called cows, weighing up to 1,000 pounds.

The National Bison Legacy Act that Obama signed into law was passed by the House and Senate last month. The first bill on the topic was introduced in 2012. It heralded the animal being saved from extinction in the early 20th century.

There are 162,110 bison nationally on private farms, according to a 2012 Department of Agriculture census. The Interior Department also manages around 10,000 bison on public lands, according to a 2014 report.

Groups including the Intertribal Buffalo Council, National Bison Association and Wildlife Conservation Society lobbied for the legislation to celebrate the animal, which has been an emblem in government at the federal and local level.

Bison is the official mammal or animal of Kansas, Oklahoma and Wyoming, and has been on the official seal of the Department of the Interior for a century. Lawmakers wanted to note the animal’s historic, economic and cultural significance.

“Bison are strong, proud and free, and a truly American icon with an incredible story,” Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), who introduced the Senate legislation, said in a statement.

“These noble creatures were brought back from the brink of extinction in our nation’s first great conservation effort,” Hoeven added.

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) compared the new national mammal to the bald eagle, saying it “will bring a new source of pride for Americans” and attention to conservation efforts.

Photo credit: Take Part.

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