Hello America. Bill Bison here. I’m your new National Mammal. I prefer “American Bull.”
Our President signed that designation into law on May 9. It’s purely symbolic and I think “National Mammal” is a kinda pussy sounding thing, but whatever.
I would have much preferred skipping the honorific if you all and your illustrious ancestors hadn’t slaughtered my ancestors to within a hair of extinction.
In case you’ve forgotten or never knew, here are a few historical facts to show you what I mean:
- There were 60 million, or so, because who was really counting then, of my brothers and sisters on the Great Plains in the mid-1800s.
- By 1893 there were less than 400 of me left in the wild. Let that sink in for a minute.
- How’d you all do that to us? For one thing, the U.S. Army led a campaign to wipe out bison as a way to control the Plains Indian tribes. When some in Texas worried about the activity of hunters, Gen. Philip Sheridan, who commanded during the Indian Wars, responded: “Let them kill, skin and sell until the buffalo is exterminated.”
- For another thing, by the 1870s, they were shipping hundreds of thousands of bison hides eastward each year: more than 1.5 million were packed aboard trains and wagons in the winter of 1872-73 alone. The commercial killers, however, weren’t the only ones shooting us. Train companies offered tourists the chance to shoot us from the windows of their coaches, pausing only when they ran out of ammunition or the gun’s barrel became too hot.
- There were even bison killing contests. In one, a Kansan set a record by killing 120 of us in just 40 minutes. “Buffalo” Bill Cody, hired to slaughter, killed more than 4,200 buffalo in less than two years. I decided to take the name Bill Bison in the hopes I meet up with that guy in the Hereafter.
So, I’m your National Mammal.
One last thought – when you come ogle me in one of your “parks”, skip the selfies. I don’t like you and I don’t want you close to me. And I’ll let you know.
Actually, on second thought, consider this my personal invitation: come visit, get close – say within 10 feet or so ’cause I run at 35 mpg, turn your back and hold that iPhone up high. We’ll cuddle.