President Obama has officially designated the bison as the official mammal of the United States. I didn't actually know we didn't already have a national mammal but I suppose if we have to show we are still capable of designating official stuff of the United States in bipartisan fashion, the buffalo is as good as anything. 

It's certainly part of our western imagery, mostly because of narratives of safaris where elites from Europe and the East would shoot them for sport. In actuality, it was as much the government to keep natives from having food. Their population became shockingly low and in the time after the Department of the Interior was determined to wipe out native Americans but before they became determined to give every native American a casino, the administration of William Howard Taft set out to preserve their numbers. Taft doesn't get a lot of credit these days, but he is the only person to have been both President of the United States and Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court - and the only person who ever will be.

He doesn't get a lot of credit because the Republican party of the time was dominated by the original Progressives - not the anti-science hippies that progressives are today, but the real kind, interested in progress and how we could manage it sustainably. Taft was not conservationist enough for his predecessor Teddy Roosevelt, though Roosevelt had basically hand-picked him, and Roosevelt even came out of retirement to run against him again, throwing the election to Woodrow Wilson, to the chagrin of anything who knows anything about Presidents.

Everyone who is a sportsman, from Ted Nugent to hunters who have a cabin, in Pennsylvania, has cherished the buffalo and criticized Big Government intervention of the period for its decline. It's odd that it took a Big Government president to finally get the bison its official national respect.

But what's next? A national crustacean?