The Great American Bison

By Tonka Dobreva 05.02.2016 blog

The United States is getting its own designated mammal! Congress recently approved legislation to make the bison the official mammal of the country — saying the animal is a “historical symbol of the United States” because of its strength and resilience, embodiment of the nation’s spirit.

Bison, America’s largest land mammal, played a central role in Native American culture through cultural practices, social ceremonies and religious rituals. Today, bison is considered a symbol of the American West. Once 30 to 60 million bison roamed the great plains of North America, helping sustain prairie ecosystems, shaping vegetation and landscapes through grazing, fertilization, trampling and other activities.

Bison vs. Buffalo 

There has been a debate on whether bison should be called buffalo. Some say that the two are actually different species, and because of the striking similarities in appearance, early American settlers called bison “bufello” — a name that stuck for the American variety. The American bison (Bison bison) lives only in North America, while the two main buffalo species live in Africa and Asia.

A Conservation Success Story 

The bison species is considered the first conservation success story in America — it was once on the brink of extinction, but the combined effort of ranchers, conservationists and politicians helped save it during the 20th century. Take a look at the timeline below to track the progression of bison conservation:

Adopt a Bison

You can help protect this staple American species. Visit the World Wildlife Fund website and learn more about the symbolic adoptions that they offer.

Restoring the American Bison to the Great Plains

Check out this video by the National Park Service. The agency is looking to expand its efforts beyond traditional wildlife management practices and existing park boundaries to restore the bison population by significant numbers.




  1. michelle davis

    We love basions because we thing they are cute……….

  2. Tyler K.

    Over the years, bison have taught us a lesson. When Native Americans hunted them, the population went down, but to this day, bison have survived. This teaches us that there is always a way out, no matter what.

  3. snooki

    no because what makes a difference from bison and other mammels.

  4. Sean

    I don’t think bisons should be the National USA Mammal, because dogs should be the USA National Mammal instead.

  5. Hannah

    I love to help animals. I already adopted one <3

  6. Crazy Horse School

    Writing from Crazy Horse School on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation from the Oglala and Sicangu Nation tribes of Lakota. The buffalo has always been an important part of the culture of the Lakota people. Thank you for recognizing and sharing that voice. Many historical sources including those of Native voice also mention that the “overhunting” of buffalo was not just for hides but to kill the lifestyle of the American Indian to better assimilate and keep them on their reservation lands. It is important that these sides of history are not continually suppressed since just as the buffalo overcame, so does the narrative of Native Peoples.

  7. Raul Lopez

    I enjoy hearing about the bison and think to my self why people could do that to animals and other animals.

  8. WIll

    yay this is one of my favorite animals!!!

  9. # guy

    bison are cool #lovely lol

  10. VLN Partners PA

    I want to adopt and have my own American Bison where do I go 🙂

  11. bobcone

    bison are really cool i want them to stay

  12. Ericka1

    Does it cost money to adopt a buffalo/ bison?

    • monkeylover10

      i think so

  13. Ariana

    I was at a petting zoo and I was feeding the buffalo out of a bucket and it stole the bucket and all the food. But bison/buffalo are very cool.

  14. Hailey

    i Love animals and now I want them all

  15. Hailey

    Thank you Now I am going to adopt one and become one happy person to adopt one of them I have adopted 5 animals now.

  16. Allykat

    Buffalo are a big and beautiful part of nature

    • Allykat

      And bison

  17. Faeya

    Bisons are realy cool I think they are buffalo or water buffalo

  18. yolo

    The bison are awesome animal.

  19. Jennifer powell

    we love bisions lol.

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