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Bison Bellows: Archive

What are the Bison Bellows?

A bison standing by Wind Cave National Park sign

Bison are much more than America's largest land mammal-they are culturally engrained in our history and embody the strong and resilient characteristics of American people. Here you will find a different bison story each week. Learn about the 17 federal herds, the animal's history and ecology, the unsung human heroes who have labored for bison conservation, and more. Each weekly story in this 52 article series is a separate celebration of all things bison.



Nov. 5 | Bison Bellows: A New Initiative to Celebrate Bison

A herd of bison heading straight for you

Photo courtesy of Glenn Plumb.
The year 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service (NPS) and is therefore a year for celebrations. The Biological Resources Division (BRD) in Fort Collins, Colorado is initiating their 52-week long "Bison Bellows". Every week, BRD will feature 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. The BRD wants to commemorate the partnerships, the friends, and the stewardship involved in conserving such an iconic animal.

Bison are an important symbol to both the 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.

Stay tuned each week for the Bison Bellows and check out BRD’s website to view the stories at



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.

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Last Updated: January 04, 2017