President Obama signed the National Bison Legacy Act (PDF) on Monday, designating the American buffalo the country’s national mammal. What does this mean for wild buffalo?
In order for the bill to pass the House and Senate, the following language was added: “Nothing in this Act or the adoption of the North American bison as the national mammal of the United States shall be construed or used as a reason to alter, change, modify, or otherwise affect any plan, policy, management decision, regulation, or other action by the Federal Government.”
This statement is undoubtedly directed at the current mismanagement of Yellowstone bison, America’s last wild herds. So, if not wild buffalo, whom does national mammal status serve? The bill was advanced largely by bison ranching interests, so it seems it aims to celebrate the “conservation success” of buffalo behind fences.
Though the bill has no binding language, national mammal status will definitely raise awareness of the buffalo in the public eye and help us in pointing out the hypocrisy of the US bestowing this honorable mantle upon the buffalo while indiscriminately slaughtering them at the behest of Montana's livestock industry. Together Yellowstone and Montana will share the shame of wantonly slaughtering our national mammal.
We encourage you to contact President Obama to thank him for designating the buffalo as the national mammal while using the opportunity to educate him about what is taking place with the America's only continuously wild bison, the Yellowstone herds. Call 202-456-1111 or email.
Read this powerful Outside Magazine op-ed, by Christopher Ketcham, about the hypocrisy of naming bison our national mammal: Calling the Bison Our National Mammal is the Worst Kind of Greenwashing.