President Obama signed a law on Monday declaring the bison as America’s national mammal. For those bald eagle fans, don’t worry! The bald eagle remains the national animal (and national bird) of the United States.
- they are warm blooded vertebrates
- they possess hair or fur, and
- they nourish their young with milk produced by mammary glands
The bison is an excellent choice for the honor of national mammal. Bison once numbered in the millions in the United States. Their range stretched from Canada to Mexico.
Many Native American tribes relied heavily on bison as a source of food and clothing, and they considered it of great spiritual significance. When white settlers spread into the Great Plains, they decimated the bison population, and the bison nearly went extinct.
Due to conservationist efforts starting in the early 20th century, the bison was saved from extinction. But they are still classified as Near Threatened by the IUCN. You can help in their preservation by adopting a bison via the Defenders of Wildlife or donating toward the purchase of prairie land for reserves at the American Prairie Foundation.
To learn more about bison, see our American bison facts article.