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Johnson and Thune on big and hairy


Washington, DC (KELO-AM) South Dakota Senators Tim Johnson (D) and John Thune (R) agree on something - and it's big and hairy.

Johnson and Thune are among the co-sponsors of legislation introduced Wednesday to make the bison, America's national mammal.  It's called the National Bison Legacy Act.

U.S. Senators Tim Johnson (D-SD) and John Hoeven (R-ND) led a bipartisan group of Senators in introducing the the bill.

“The bison has played an important role in our nation’s history, holds spiritual significance to Native American cultures, and remains one of our most iconic and enduring symbols,” Johnson said. “Bison production has also become an important agricultural endeavor in South Dakota and throughout the country as demand continues to grow. By adopting the North American bison as our national mammal, the National Bison Legacy Act recognizes their historical, cultural, ecological, and economic significance.”

“North Dakota’s history is closely associated with the bison, largely because of the influence of President Teddy Roosevelt’s early visits to our state,” Hoeven said. “His efforts to protect these majestic animals helped to retrieve them from the brink of extinction and established them as one of the most powerful and inspiring symbols of the American spirit, for Native Americans and settlers alike. I can think of no more noble an animal to name as the official mammal of the United States.”

Bison have played and continue to play an important role in Indian Country economies and in the spiritual lives of American Indians. The animal was nearly extinct in the early 1900s, but a collaboration of public and private interests worked together to help restore its population. Currently, many American Indian tribes are working to restore bison on tribal lands.

Bison producers help grow rural economies and provide quality food to individuals across the country. Nationwide, there are 2,600 bison ranches that help create jobs, generate economic growth, and provide a sustainable and healthy meat source to contribute to our nation’s food security.

The following Senators have cosponsored the bill: Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tom Udall (D-NM), John Thune (R-SD), Rob Portman (R-OH), Mike Johanns (R-NE), James Inhofe (R-OK), and Jerry Moran (R-KS).