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New national survey says public reveres bison

Americans are woefully out of touch with the fact that the American bison, or buffalo, is in trouble as a wild, iconic species, but they do love them as an important symbol of their countryand as an entre on the dinner table.

These sentiments were found in a public survey released today by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) at a national conference on restoring bison populations in the North America.

The survey is part of an effort spearheaded by the American Bison Society, which is a program of WCS. Its goal is to achieve ecological restoration in the next 100 years by putting a fire under government agencies, conservation groups, ranchers, and others to do all they can to restore the bison's ecological role as an important species to North America.

The national survey asked 2,000 Americans more than 50 questions about bison to gage public awareness about this iconic species, as conservationists grapple with how to best restore populations to the American West and elsewhere. The survey results were compiled by WCS researchers John Fraser, Kent Redford, Jessica Sickler, and Eva Fearn.

The survey showed that:

  • Less than ten percent understood how many bison remain in the United States
  • More than 74 percent believe that bison are extremely important living symbol of the American West
  • More than half view the bison as emblematic as a symbol of America as whole

While an estimated 500,000 bison remain in the United States, the vast majority of those live on private ranches, with only about 9,000 plains bison considered free-ranging in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. An additional 7,000 free-ranging wood bison live in Canada. Bison once numbered in the tens of millions and ranged from Alaska to Mexico but were wiped out by commercial hunting and habitat loss largely as a result of U.S. westward expansion.

"The results of this survey clearly show that the American public wants mo

Contact: Stephen Sautner
Wildlife Conservation Society

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