The bald eagle has been the national emblem of the United States since 1782, when it was adopted as a symbol of freedom and its imagery was incorporated into the Great Seal. Its symbolic status helped people rally around it when it faced extinction in the mid twentieth century due to human encroachment and the pesticide DDT. In recent years, the bald eagle population has recovered, and it was taken off the endangered species list in 2007.
Similar to the role of national bird, Senator Mike Enzi (R) of Wyoming and Senator Tim Johnson (D) of South Dakota introduced a bill that would recognize the bison as America’s national mammal. Vast herds of American bison once roamed from Canada to Mexico. From a population that numbered in the millions, American bison dwindled to near extinction by the 1880s, driven there by American settlers.
Today, bison populations have started to recover. There are about half a million bison living today. However most of the bison live in commercial herds and carry genes from cattle. Only a few thousand bison are pure descendants of the vast herds that dominated the Great Plains centuries ago.
To urge your senator to co-sponsor the National Bison Legacy Act, which will help preserve this great species and honor it for its significant role in American history, visit Vote Bison and sign the petition.
To learn more about bison, see Animal Fact Guide’s article, American Bison.