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Latarski: Vote for the American Bison
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Just in case you missed this, there is a move afoot - there is actually legislation being introduced in Congress - to make the American Bison the official national mammal of the United States.

The main problem about naming the bison as the official mammal is that the next thing would probably be someone wanting an official reptile. I don't know what creature that may be but you figure Charlie Sheen would be in the running for the honor but he has no chance as long as John Edwards is still around.

But the bison movement is being pushed by the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Intertribal Buffalo Council and the National Bison Association. In case you did not know there was a National Bison Association, it is worth noting one of the founding members was President Teddy Roosevelt, which makes sense because he had a bit of buffalo look to him.

No doubt this noble creature deserves the recognition and while there are other hefty animals that deserve consideration - the bear, the elk, moose, Newt Gingrich - the America Bison is nothing short of an icon.

The America Bison was called a buffalo by the early settlers but technically this is incorrect.

The American Bison is unique and indigenous only to North America while the two main buffalo species - the African Cape Buffalo and the Asian Water Buffalo - are considered true buffalo.

There is also a European Bison that inhabits parts of Poland, which means the poor critters were probably on their way to America and got hopeless lost.

While all are members of the Bovidae family, the American Bison is distinguished by a large shoulder hump and massive head, which reminds me of an unfortunate situation involving a blind date.

Thanks to greed and stupidity, the bison was almost wiped out but they have made a comeback and now there are herds of the big shaggies that can see be seen wandering plains in some places.

There is no doubt the American Bison is worthy of the recognition being sought and I want to know what the official bison stance is from those running for president.

When it comes to a position on bison, I suspect Mitt Romney would probably say, "On a bun," unless this is the week he decides to hawk for the vegetarian vote. President Obama might reply, "Well, this is one thing that's still made in America."

You have to give Obama a break on this one. The guy is from Chicago, so the closest thing he's ever seen to creatures lying lazily in the grass would be the outfield of the Chicago Cubs.

If you ever see an American Bison up close, but not too close, it is something you will not soon forget.

There was a low fog and the sun was just coming up when I stopped on the side of the road to watch the sunrise.

I heard a grunt behind me and when I turned, standing on the opposite side of the road, was a huge American Bison in all its glory.

He gave me the eye, as if to say I was intruding on his morning walk, and when he snorted, the cool morning air came from his nostrils like steam. I eased back into the car, he pawed the ground and grunted and then lopped off while I tried to rub off the goose bumps.

While the eagle soars to great heights as the symbol of America, the American Bison, down to earth and solid from the ground up, is the perfect mammal to represent our nation.

If we are going to have an official mammal, then the America Bison has my vote. I just hope this noble creature is not drafted by some political party to become its symbol. The elephant and donkey are still trying to live that down.


Ric Latarski is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of topics and can be reached at