United States Names Bison as National Mammal
The United States is known around the world for her expansive size. It is no surprise, therefore, that our National Mammal would be the largest in North America.
On May 9, 2016, President Barack Obama signed the National Bison Legacy Act, naming the North American Bison as the official National Mammal of the United States. This important piece of conservation legislation elevated the bison to equal standing with the bald eagle as symbols for the nation.
Male bison, or bulls, can weigh upwards of 2,000 pounds and stand around 6 feet high. Female bison, known as cows, weigh up to 1,000 pound and can grow as tall as 5 feet. Even their babies are large, weighing between 30 and 70 pounds at birth! These impressive numbers make the bison the largest mammal in North America. In order to maintain their imposing build, bison forage for 9 to 11 hours every day, eating mostly leafy plants such as grasses or weeds. During the winter months, they swing their heads from side to side clearing snow from the ground so they can get to the grass beneath.
Though they appear to be gentle, lumbering beasts, bison reach speeds of up to 35 miles per hour. They are surprisingly agile, able to execute quick turns and jump fences with ease. These giants live for an average of 10 to 20 years. Cows are able to give birth from the time they are 2 years old, but males generally do not produce offspring until they are between the ages of 6 and 10. Cows will have only 1 calf per year. These babies are born between late March and May.
Though once on the brink of extinction, bison can now be found in all 50 states, including Native American lands, wildlife refuges, national parks and private lands. The largest herd on public lands is located in Yellowstone National Park and boasts numbers of 4,900.
The history of the bison is tied closely with that of the United States and it is appropriate that this majestic animal serve as a symbol of our nation’s
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