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The US has a new national mammal: the bison!

Rusty Clark

President Obama has just named the bison, also known as the American Buffalo, as the FIRST national mammal of the United States. “O” and a band of impassioned lawmakers signed this into law on Monday. 

This mammal has a unique place in US history. It was once the most ubiquitous creature that roamed the US’s Great Plains region, with a range from Alaska to the grasslands of Mexico.

That's right, this majestic behemoth is much more than a tasty burger patty sitting in your freezer.


Obama’s decision to make the bison the national mammal is primarily to protect this nearly extinct creature. The new designation basically means that buffalos will be exhaustively defended and encouraged to grow. It’s also a recognition of this animal’s important place in US lore--harkening back to the travels of the pioneers who traveled out of the East to the West in search of economic opportunity, and, more importantly, as the most significant animal to many American Indian nations.   

For Native American Nations and the pioneers, bison was a staple in their diets.

Everyone wanted to eat bison, whether it was for breakfast, lunch or dinner in the 1800s. There were once tens of million of bison in the US, but over-hunting has obliterated the population. By 1890 there were only about 1,000 buffalos, with only two-dozen roaming throughout Yellowstone National Park. 

Lucky for us, semi-domestication has raised their numbers. To provide proof, there are now over 30,000 that roam throughout Yellowstone today.

Here are a few facts about this majestic behemoth that are bound to be featured in bar night trivia—now that it is the national mammal.

1. The first verse of “Home, Home on the Range” is about the enormous number of deer and bison that roamed the Great Plains, before everyone ate most of them.

With the bison being the US’s new ‘it’ mammal, watch out for a new spin on the popular folk song.

Here is what it possibly could become:

Home, home on the range where the deer and newly appointed national mammal, the buffalo, range!

2.  Bison are tall and long, on average 6 to 6 ½ feet tall and 10 to 12 ½ feet long

3.  Bison are heavy creatures. <ature bulls weigh up to 2,000 pounds and a mature cow weighs as much as 1,000 pounds.

4. And the all-important question: is bison meat better than beef?  Nutritionally it is, having a lower fat, and higher protein content than its competitor.


Bison is the US’s original red meat.

But instead of firing up the grill this Memorial Day, give this venerated mammal some time to itself.