Bison Producers Help Celebrate National Mammal Designation[caption id="attachment_512" align="alignnone" width="300"] Photo by Julie Larsen Maher[/caption]
Westminster, CO (June 28, 2016) – Private bison producers were well-represented last week as nearly 30 ranchers joined with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, congressional leaders, conservationists, and tribal representatives at a special celebration at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. to celebration the bison’s designation as America’s National Mammal.
Three bison business leaders were among the speakers addressing the roughly 150 individuals who gathered to celebrate the enactment of the National Bison Legacy Act.
Roy Liedtke, president of the National Bison Association, said, “A combination of conservation leaders and individual ranchers pulled bison back from the brink of extinction in the late 1800's. We are pleased that ranchers, conservationists and tribal leaders today are continuing to work together to restore bison on rangelands and pastures across the country."
Dick Gehring of Kansas represented the National Buffalo Foundation and several bison businesses sponsoring the special reception, and said, “We in the foundation are proud to be a part of the coalition to see that the animal we love was named as the national mammal.” He also reported that the foundation is sponsoring a traveling bison history exhibit that will be appearing at museums around the country.
Dr. David Hunter of Turner Enterprises, Inc., represented Ted Turner, owner of the world’s largest bison herd, at the event. Hunter said, “He is proud of the fact that he helped restore the North American bison herds.” He noted that Turner has helped introduce many consumers to bison meat through the chain of Ted’s Montana Grill that Turner launched with George McKerrow in 2002.
The celebration underscored the guiding principles that bison represent as Americans honor this national symbol: unity, resilience and healthy landscapes and communities. The event also highlighted the diverse interests supporting bison, represented by the more than 60 organizations, tribes, conservation groups and businesses of the Vote Bison Coalition, led by the Inter Tribal Buffalo Council (ITBC), National Bison Association (NBA), and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, whose department’s seal bears the image of a bison, spoke about the bison’s enduring legacy on America’s public lands, refuges, forests and parks.