Vote Bison

Elect our national mammal


The North American bison is the new National Mammal of the United States. On May 9, 2016, President Barack Obama signed the National Bison Legacy Act. Our country has a national emblem, flower and tree, and now a national mammal. The bison was the natural choice. Our country's largest land animal, the bison stands up to six feet tall at the shoulder and weighs up to a ton. Its place in American history is unrivaled among species as a symbol of American unity, resilience, and healthy landscapes and communities.


Championing the National Mammal for over four years, the now 63-member Vote Bison Coalition is a cross-sector collaborative uniting rural communities, Native American tribes, ranchers, wildlife conservationists, outdoor recreationists, hunters, educators, zoos and others dedicated to securing a permanent pedestal elevating the bison from lost species to honored icon of American society. Leading the VBC is a Steering Committee composed of the InterTribal Buffalo Council, with 62 tribes in 19 states seeking to restore bison to Tribal lands, the National Bison Association, an NGO representing over 1,000 producers, processors, and marketers in 49 states, and the Wildlife Conservation Society, an international NGO based at the Bronx Zoo that has worked on recovering bison populations since co-founding the American Bison Society with President Theodore Roosevelt, Tribes, ranchers and philanthropists more than a century ago.


senators John Hoeven (R-ND) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and Representatives William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Kristi Noem (R-SD), and José Serrano (D-NY) championed the bill in Congress, along with dozens of co-sponsors from both parties. The Senate first voted in December to pass S.2032; the next step was passage of its companion bill, H.R.2908, in the House. Both bills passed by unanimous consent, as legislators recognized bison benefits to America in the 21st Century.


We celebrate National Bison Day on the first Saturday of November. Last fall, the U.S. Senate passed S.Res.300, officially designating the Third Annual National Bison Day. The bill, led by Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN), earned support from 20 bipartisan cosponsors. National Bison Day 2015 was commemorated with promotional activities around the country and a Capitol Hill reception hosting 500, including Senators, Representatives and staff from about 120 Congressional offices. The day was covered in television and print news stories nationwide. With the Act's passage, celebratory events will occur year-round in 2016 – public, Tribal and private lands home to bison. Zoos with bison, plus the ranching community, companies marketing bison products, outdoorsmen and women, historians, educators, and others will hallmark the year the bison became National Mammal with many events held leading up to and held on National Bison Day on November 5.


America's native prairie and wood bison live on ranches in all 50 states and in Tribal herds, parks, refuges, and private conservancies. Bison number about 500,000 across North America, but once faced extinction.

Tens of millions of bison roamed from Alaska to Mexico, and coast to coast. Already integral to Native American sustenance, spirituality and customs, they fed and clothed other early settlers. By nature, bison also regenerate landscapes, producing homes and food for wildlife. But by 1876, bison were all but gone, concluding a dark chapter where 1 million bison were killed in just 3 years—the piles of rotting carcasses a haunting vision of pillage and waste that also cost Native American lives.

In 1905, visionary ranchers, tribes, industrialists, sport hunters and conservationists joined President Theodore Roosevelt in a monumental effort to reverse the American bison's demise. This early campaign to spare the last few hundred bison evolved into the first major wildlife recovery in world history. The small population secured in states like South Dakota, Montana, and Oklahoma spawned today's 5,000 privately ranched herds of bison that provide meat, wool and leather to growing markets. Native Americans are regaining opportunities to re-center their way of life on the buffalo. Zoos, parks, refuges and tribes are working together to increase bison genetic integrity and numbers. While probably less than 5% of bison truly run wild these days, wherever they roam they help recover lost grasslands and biodiversity.

Nearly 60 Tribes participate in the InterTribal Buffalo Council, cooperating to restore bison to a million acres of Indian lands. Several have signed the historic Northern Tribes Buffalo Treaty establishing intertribal alliances between U.S. tribes and Canadian First Nations to work together to reestablish bison on their lands. For these tribes, a return to bison offers jobs, a lean and healthy meat and traditional source of products for their families, and a return of their treasured cultural identity.

America's bison comeback is unfolding and rural communities are the first to benefit from the economic spark. Consumers are embracing the great taste of bison meat. Bison production on private ranches in rural areas across all 50 states is strong, with the economic value of bison an estimated $336 million and prices for meat more than doubling in the last four years. As bison return to historic habitats, recreationists are hiking, riding and driving in federal, state and local parks, refuges and forests, and as tourists visit private ranches where they can also experience agrarian life. Hunters have increased opportunities to enjoy their sport in places of great beauty and challenge.

The American Bison is our treasured National Mammal!


Julie Anton Randall (