10 May 2016 Current Affairs: US President Barack Obama has signed National Bison Legacy Act into law officially making the American bison the country’s first national mammal on 9 May 2016.With this, Bison, the animal that once roamed North America, joins the ranks of the Bald Eagle as the official symbol of the country.
Its designation as national mammal do not hampers bald eagle’s position as the national animal because eagle that is birthed through eggs in not a mammal.
American bison : Once million’s of bison’s roamed North America in its territory that stretched from forests of Alaska and the grasslands of Mexico to Nevada’s Great Basin and the eastern Appalachian Mountains.The animal remains the largest mammal in North America, with mature male bulls weighing up to 2000 pounds, while females (called cows) weigh up to 1000 pounds.Despite their size, the animals are surprisingly quick, reaching speeds of up to 35 miles per hour.In late 1800s, the animal was hunted by the European settlers to few hundred and also reduced its habitat.
National Park is the only place in the US where bison have continuously lived since prehistoric times.As of July 2015, Yellowstone’s bison population was estimated at 4900, making it the largest bison population on public lands.Bison claves are nicknamed as Red Dogs because the orange-red colour that it carries at the time of birth.Characterized by their long, shaggy brown coats, they have poor eyesight but acute hearing and an excellent sense of smell.Bison mainly eat grasses and sedges.Historically, the American bison played an essential role in shaping the ecology of the Great Plains. They graze heavily on native grasses and disturb the soil with their hooves, allowing many plant and animal species to flourish.