American idol: bison have graced U.S. currency and are the symbol of at least two federal agencies, yet their numbers in the wild are a mere shadow of their former strength.
Credit: Julie Larsen Maher, WCS.
Americans: This weekend, you've been asked to celebrate an enduring icon of massive proportions that's made a comeback from the brink of extinction.
The U.S. Senate passed a resolution this week to officially make Saturday (Nov. 2) National Bison Day, commemorating the historical, economic, ecological and cultural contributions of North America's largest land mammals, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Tens of millions of bison once roamed the Great Plains. But by the early 1900s, their numbers had dwindled to less than 1,100 individuals, largely due to overhunting and habitat loss. Early conservationists like President Theodore Roosevelt and William Hornaday took up the cause of bringing back bison. Today, there are estimated to be hundreds of thousands of the animals across the United States.