Our Mission: Creating a Unified Voice in Support of Wildlife Conservation in Texas.

Honoring Our National Mammal

On May 9, 2016, President Obama signed the National Bison Legacy Act into law making the bison our National Mammal, a designation that has been a long time goal of coalition member, the Texas Bison Association (TBA) as well as their many supporters.  It was refreshing to see, in this day and age, bipartisan congressional support for the bill.  Of course, the bison is the perfect choice for such an illustrious title as National Mammal.

Has any other mammal had the impact on this country’s cultural and natural history as the bison?  From sustaining our indigenous peoples for untold generations to being a vital economic driver, the bison formed the foundation for much of the nation’s early history.  As a keystone species, the historic herds of millions of bison roaming the prairies and plains of the country worked to actually create those habitats.  Bison grazing stimulated plant growth.  Bison hooves by the millions trampled invading brush and scored the soil surface increasing water infiltration.  And of course, tons of bison manure helped to build the famously fertile prairie soils which today provide so much of our food.

It is only fitting that our National Mammal be a species that has benefited from the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.  The bison was one of the country’s first conservation success stories as ranchers, hunters, conservationists, and bison enthusiasts of all kinds worked individually and collectively to save the species from impending extinction in the late 1800s/early 1900s.  Granted, habitat fragmentation prevents bison from freely roaming the nation’s grasslands leading to the species’ current status as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need here in Texas but thanks to the concerted efforts of groups like the TBA in Texas and around the country, the species will survive and the U.S. will always be home to an icon.

Rob Denkhaus

 

NOTE: As I wrote this another Coalition member, the Friends of the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge, announced the birth of the first bison calf of the year for their herd.  Visit www.fwnaturecenter.org for more information on this public bison herd.


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