By Matthew Brown
Bison advocates launched a "vote bison" public relations campaign Friday to coincide with the bill.
The National Bison Legacy Act introduced in the Senate is backed by lawmakers from Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Rhode Island.
The largely symbolic measure would provide no added protections for the estimated 20,000 wild bison in North America. And the bald eagle would still hold a somewhat loftier role as the national emblem, as declared by the Second Continental Congress in 1782.
But supporters said the bison legacy bill would afford overdue recognition to a species that has sweeping cultural and ecological significance. Bison—North America's largest land animal—already appear on two state flags and the official seal of the U.S. Department of Interior.
"The North American bison is an enduring symbol of America, its people and a way of life," said Wyoming Republican Sen. Mike Enzi, chief sponsor of the bill along with South Dakota Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson.