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Bison: Our New National Mammal

The American bison is now the first National Mammal of the United States, as stated by The National Bison Legacy Act, passed in the House on Tuesday, April 27 and is expected to get Senate approval this week.

Source: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/bison-injures-woman-posing-selfie-yellowstone-park-article-1.2301596

The recognition of the bison, is a recognition of a conservation success story, and it’s a rare bipartisan moment in Washington D.C.

“No other indigenous species tells America’s story better than this noble creature,” Rep. Lacy Clay, a progressive Missouri Democrat who sponsored the bill that passed the Republican-controlled Congress, said in a statement recently. “The American bison is an enduring symbol of strength, Native American culture and the boundless western wildness.”

A camera trap captured these bison crossing the Lamar River in Yellowstone National Park. By Ronan Donovan. (Source: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/05/160509-pictures-bison-us-national-mammal-yellowstone/)

But aside from the symbolism, not much will change about how we Americans interact with bison. The law has a provision saying as much: Native Americans can still hunt them, ranchers will still ranch them, zoos can still house them, and, people can still eat them.

“None of that is necessarily a bad thing”, said John Calvelli, an executive vice president with the Wildlife Conservation Society. “Ranchers, wildlife experts, politicians and Native American groups were actually pretty much in agreement that this animal needs to be honored. It’s just that every group has its own idea about how to do that, and that’s fine. Bison are a connection to healthy communities,” Calvelli said. “This law brings this all together into something that is a bit more coherent. Maybe we’ll all feel a bit more patriotic when we eat a bison burger,” he added.

 

Source: https://www.stgeorgeutah.com/news/archive/2016/01/12/djg-genetically-pure-bison-found-in-utahs-henry-mountains/#.VzNZgIQrIdU

In the early 1800s, there were about 30 million bison in the United States, stretching from Alaska to the Mexican border. By the time Congress made it illegal to kill bison in 1894, there were fewer than 1,000. Teddy Roosevelt, a frontiersman in his own right, led a conservation effort to nurse them back to health at the Bronx Zoo and ship them out west. It worked. Today there are bison in all 50 states and close to 5,000 in Yellowstone National Park.

 

Source: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/government-agencies-to-cull-up-to-900-yellowstone-bison/

It’s still illegal to shoot and kill bison without a permit. The exception to that latter rule is Native American lands. Ranchers, wildlife experts and Native American groups are working to increase the number of bison on reservations to help these communities return to their ancestral tradition of hunting and eating bison. They’ve identified about 1 million acres of reservation land they want to bring bison onto for this purpose.

Source: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/bison-coming-home-montana-indian-reservation-140-years/

When the bison and the Native Americans were run off the frontier, so was Native American culture and their contributions to building this nation. This bill is an effort to pause and honor that.

Now, when school children learn about their new national mammal, they’ll also learn about its relationship to the conquering of the West. It’s not always an easy story to hear, but it’s an important one, say its supporters.

 

Source: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/obama-signs-legislation-designating-bison-national-mammal-n570801

If you would like to see bison, you can go visit Yellowstone, or you can just go to your local zoo. Bison are in zoos in 49 out of 50 states, including in Washington D.C. For the first time in more than a century, the National Zoo welcomed back bison in 2014, two females named Wilma and Zora.

 

Source: https://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/Bison/

 

Happy Humpday (^_^)

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/05/10/bison-are-our-our-new-national-mammal-heres-what-you-can-and-cant-do-with-them/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/kidspost/bison-return-to-national-zoo/2014/09/02/43efaea0-2f36-11e4-994d-202962a9150c_story.html

 http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/05/160509-pictures-bison-us-national-mammal-yellowstone/

 

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/government-agencies-to-cull-up-to-900-yellowstone-bison/

https://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/Bison/

https://www.stgeorgeutah.com/news/archive/2016/01/12/djg-genetically-pure-bison-found-in-utahs-henry-mountains/#.VzNZgIQrIdU

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/obama-signs-legislation-designating-bison-national-mammal-n570801

 

Wolves Helping the Bears in Yellowstone

The return of wolves to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, may be leading to an improvement in the diet of grizzly bears, a study suggests, published in the Journal of Animal Ecology.

When wolves were eradicated from Yellowstone in the early 20th Century, the elk population boomed, devastating berry-shrubs relied upon by bears.  A team from Oregon and Washington links the reintroduction of predatory wolves with a decline in over-browsing by elk.

There is a consequent recovery in the availability of late-summer berries, the favoured pre-hibernation food of the grizzly bear.  The study indicates that the number of berries measured in bear droppings has doubled as elk numbers have decreased, following the wolves’ return in the 1990s.  The complex interactions of the Yellowstone ecosystem were revealed in data measured before and after the reintroduction of wolves.

David Mattson, a US Geological Survey (USGS) wildlife biologist, commented previously on Yellowstone: “It’s a complex system and grizzly bears are a kind of consummate connector of all of the species in that system.”

The study shows that berry shrubs have increased since elk populations declined, and as shrubs recover from over-browsing the fruit consumption of bears has increased.

William Ripple, lead author, commented: “Wild fruit is typically an important part of grizzly bear diet, especially in late summer when they are trying to gain weight as rapidly as possible before winter hibernation”.

“Elk browsing reducing berry production is well known in Europe as well,” said Atle Mysterud, an ecologist from the University of Oslo.

“The study shows that new patches of berries have formed after the wolves were reintroduced. It is clear that berry production is very important for bears.”

“This is an interesting paper and it is important that we understand the consequences of wolf recovery”, Dr Middleton added.

 

The latest results demonstrate that acknowledging the many inter-relationships between species and environments in these systems is key to understanding that complexity.

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23495074

A Wolverine in Yellowstone

There are about 250 to 300 wolverines left in the lower 48 states of the United States, so catching one on camera in Yellowstone National Park is a rare and exciting event.

Conservationists have been studying and tracking wolverines in Yellowstone for over 8 years.  Through remote cameras images like this, they have gained a better understanding of wolverines, which in turn will help inform conservation strategies.

 

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=406437012703152&set=a.157440564269466.33488.152065518140304&type=1&theater