The American Bison, sometimes known as the buffalo, has officially become the United States’ National Mammal.
Signed in law by President Barack Obama on May 9, the National Bison Legacy Act adopts the American Bison as the country’s official mammal.
Also known as H. R. 2908, the act was passed by the House on April 26, and by the Senate on April 28. It lists 23 findings for establishing the American bison as the national mammal.
The law will not displace the Bald Eagle, but joins it as “the official symbol of our country.”
There are two subspecies of American bison; the plains bison (Bison bison bison) and the wood bison (Bison bison athabascae).
According to the Department of the Interior, the bison is the largest mammal in North America, with males reaching a height of six feet and a weight of one ton. Females are smaller, reaching 1,000 pounds and a height of five feet.
The massive animals can run up to 35 mph and vertically jump over objects up to five feet in height.
Calfs have been called “red dogs” for their orange-reddish in coat, which begins to darken at around two and a half months of age.
Between 30 to 60 million American Bison used to roam North America before the mid-1800s.
Mass hunting and a bovine illness called brucellosis almost drove the ungulates to extinction in the latter half of the 19th century.
Citing the Department of Agriculture’s 2012 Census of Agriculture, the there are currently 162,110 bison in farms across the US.
This number is down from the 2007 total, which was 198,234.
The Smithsonian Institute estimates there to be 30,000 American bison in conservation herds on public lands.