Bison Bellows: A New Initiative to Celebrate Bison

In November 2016,  the National Park Service Biological Resources Division in Fort Collins, Colorado, began the 52-week long "Bison Bellows" series. Every week, "Bison Bellows" featured short articles—known as "Bellows"—highlighting stories centered on three themes: meeting the herd, meeting the people, and telling the story. In essence, it is a celebration of all things bison.

Bison herd approaching camera

Courtesy of Glenn Plumb

Bison are an important symbol to both the National Park Service (NPS) and the Department of the Interior, to native peoples of this continent, and in general, to the American public. They represent much more than America’s largest mammal. They are culturally engrained in American history and they embody the strong and resilient characteristics of the American people. Bison stand proud as the center feature of the NPS logo.

NPS recognizes bison are important and the 2014 Call to Action Back Home on the Range Report emphasizes returning the bison to their homelands in the 26th action. The Call to Action provides guidance to all NPS staff members to advance the mission of the Service into the upcoming century. The Call to Action Item #26 focuses on restoring and sustaining three wild bison populations with the help from tribes, federal agencies, and land owners. Today, seventeen federal herds roam the American plains, thanks to management from NPS, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, The Nature Conservancy, and state entities. The Department of the Interior (DOI) is committed to these efforts. In fact, DOI and the NPS recognized the Bison Working Group for their contribution to bison conservation and coordination when they awarded NPS Chief Wildlife Biologist, Glenn Plumb, with a 2015 Honor Award for Superior Service. Through the Call to Action item #26, NPS and partners aspire to introduce three more herds to set the stage for the long-term conservation of wild bison.

The United States government also recognizes that bison are significant and legislation designated the first Saturday of November, annually, as National Bison Day. The day emphasizes the important cultural, ecological, and economic influences of bison. On November 4, 2015, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is hosting a reception to celebrate National Bison Day (November 7, 2015), and raise awareness for bison conservation. The WCS is currently lobbying for the passing of a bill that would enact the designation of bison as the United States national mammal.

Read more Bison Bellows stories

Did you know?

A bellow is the sound male bison make to announce their presence and establish dominance in the herd. These low vocalizations increase during mating season when they are trying to find mates or during male-male competitions.