Bison: All You Need to Know About America’s New Official Mammal
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.
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.
Mass hunting and a bovine illness called brucellosis almost drove the ungulates to extinction in the latter half of the 19th century.
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.