House of Representatives names bison ‘national mammal’

Published: April 28, 2016

Commentary by
JOE EVANS

Today, the bison was named the United States’ “national mammal,” standing proudly alongside the bald eagle as America’s animal mascots.

I, for one, support this choice wholeheartedly. In fact, I can’t think of an animal more fitting than the bison to take that mantel. In my opinion, the bison best represents the values, tendencies and psyche of America.

Confused? Let me break it down for you with three undeniable similarities between the bison and the United States of America.

Similarity One

The bison’s behavior perfectly illustrates America’s political atmosphere since its inception.

According to the National Park Service’s website, the bisons temperament is described as follows:

“The bison temperament is often unpredictable. They appear peaceful, unconcerned and even lazy, yet they may attack anything, often without warning or apparent reason.”

If that doesn’t describe American politics, I really don’t know what does.

What makes the point even more impactful is that the bison has the ability to be an absolute wrecking ball when it wants to be. The one ton bison can run at speeds up to 30 miles per hours and at its peak was rated only second to the Alaskan brown bear in terms of killing potential in America.

Basically, if the bison allied themselves and worked to their fullest potential, it would be a force to be dealt with to anything that threatened it. If only the bison were to realize the tremendous power they had and use it to their advantage.

Similarity Two

The bison is the most capitalistic animal in all of America.

The bison was hunted into near extinction because it was so delicious that people simply couldn’t get enough. They were then brought back from near extinction because of the demand for a lean, healthy and relatively cheap source of meat. Simply put, the bison was brought back from the brink of no longer existing due to the most powerful force America has ever known — cold, hard cash.

On top of their comeback from the brink of extinction, according to nebsusag.org, bison are far more profitable than regular old cows.

Not only do bison cost 2/3 less to raise than regular beef cows, but there is a huge unmet demand for both meat and breeding stock that bison have begun to fill. Bison currently goes for about $6 per pound on the market.

Each bison calf is worth far more per head than a regular beef cow as well. A cattle rancher expects to get an average of $350 for a cow calf, with a profit afterwards of only about $50. A bison calf, on the other hand, goes for about $1400, $2000 for a bison heifer for breeding and between $600-$800 per bull for meat.

In order to make the profit a single bison brings on the market, a cattle rancher would need to sell 24 heads of cattle.
Basically speaking, the bison is a piñata filled to the brim with hundred dollar bills just waiting to be whacked by the baseball bat of capitalism.

Similarity Three

The bison was an original Native American.

The bison, unlike most other livestock we have, wasn’t brought over on a boat from Europe. The bison was here before any settlers, sporting massive herds that fed the equally massive Native American population.

In fact, the parallels between the bison and Native Americans don’t end there. Both populations have been massively reduced by settler violence. The land they populated and roamed free in was taken away from them and developed on and they are now forced to live in small, usually fenced in reserved spaces most commonly found in the Midwest.

For all of these reasons, I completely agree with the decision to make the bison a shining example of American policy and values. The bison is as American as an apple pie stuffed full of fireworks and it’s about time someone recognized this noble beast for everything it represents.

Contact the writer: joseph.evans2@scranton.edu

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *