Vote Bison

Elect our national mammal


The Vote Bison Campaign aims to make the North American bison the National Mammal of the United States. Our country has a national emblem, flower and tree, but we do not recognize any national mammal. The American bison is 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. Bison today symbolize American values of unity, resilience and healthy landscapes and people.


Championing the National Mammal vote is the 62-member (and growing) Vote Bison Coalition, a cross-sector collaborative uniting rural communities, Native American tribes, ranchers, wildlife conservationists, outdoorsmen and women, educators, zoos and others dedicated to securing a permanent pedestal elevating the bison from lost species to honored icon of American society. Leading this diverse coalition is a Steering Committee composed of the InterTribal Buffalo Council, an organization 59 tribes in 19 states that manage bison on tribal lands, the National Bison Association, a non-profit association representing more than 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 more than a century ago.


Congress has the power to establish our country's national mammal. The Senate has done its part—voting in December to pass S.2032, the National Bison Legacy Act (NBLA), which would adopt the bison as the national mammal. Led by Senators John Hoeven (R-ND), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and 11 bipartisan cosponsors, the bill passed by unanimous consent. The next step is passage of the NBLA in the House. H.R.2908, the companion to S.2032, is co-sponsored by Reps. William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), José Serrano (D-NY), and Kristi Noem (R-SD). The Coalition is working closely with the bill's sponsors to raise awareness of not only the bison's historic importance, but also the economic, cultural, sociological and environmental benefits that bison provide 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.


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.

Bison are a treasured American icon–profiled on coins, portrayed on several federal and state emblems, and featured on logos of sports teams, businesses and academic institutions nationwide. Bison remain a vital part of Native American cultures. Already the state mammal or animal of three states, it's time bison are adopted as the National Mammal.

ASK YOUR CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVE TO CO-SPONSOR THE NATIONAL BISON LEGACY ACT! Contact: Pauline Jamry, Rep. Clay (202-225-2406) or Alan Feyerherm, Rep. Fortenberry (202-225-4806)