BELLE NOUVELLE... J' ADORE LES BISONS ET HEUREUSE D' APPRENDRE QU' ILS SERONT PEUT ETRE PROTEGES.
MERCI OBAMA !!!!
WASHINGTON — President Obama signed a law on Monday making the bison — tens of millions of which once roamed North America — the country’s first national mammal.
The designation does nothing to threaten the bald eagle’s position as the national animal. But the eagle is not a mammal. So, at long last, the nation now has an official one.
The bison’s territory once stretched from the forests of Alaska to the grasslands of Mexico. The animal remains the largest mammal in North America, with mature bulls weighing up to a ton. Despite their size, the animals are surprisingly quick, reaching speeds of up to 35 miles per hour.
They were not fast enough, however, to outrun bullets, and their extraordinary size and tendency to travel in herds made them easy targets for hunters during the 19th century. Native American tribes survived on bison by following herds, and massacres of the animals helped push Indian cultures into collapse.
The animal’s numbers have fallen to the tens of thousands in the United States, and many of them are preserved in national parks. Groups fighting to prevent the extinction of bison had pushed for the federal designation.
“As a Pennsylvanian, I kind of thought that we ought to consider the groundhog as a national mammal,” said Representative Charlie Dent, a Republican. A groundhog from Punxsutawney, Pa., serves as a national weatherman in an annual rite.
“But I decided I’d better support the bison,” Mr. Dent added.
The founding fathers debated whether the bald eagle or wild turkey would better serve as the national symbol, with Benjamin Franklin rooting for the turkey because the eagle “is a bird of bad moral character.”
Bison served a small role in President Richard M. Nixon’s diplomatic opening to China. During the secret back-and-forth that preceded Nixon’s 1972 visit, White House staff members had to come up with a state gift, and they assumed the Chinese would want a pair of American bison, said Lucy A. Winchester, the White House social secretary at the time.