The Buffalo Bill Center of the West will celebrate “National Bison Day” with a free film Saturday, Nov. 2.
The Center joins the nationwide celebration with a showing of the National Geographic film “American Serengeti.” The 45-minute film begins at 1:30 p.m. in Coe Auditorium and is free.
“American Serengeti” chronicles the large conservation project underway to rebuild the Great Plains, often called the “American Serengeti,” for its once-vibrant grassland ecosystem and abundant wildlife. More than 200 years ago, Lewis and Clark marveled at the herds of bison, packs of wolves, grizzly bears, prairie dogs and other wildlife. Current conservation efforts are attempting to connect 3 million acres of grasslands to restore the ecosystem.
The bison – America’s largest land mammal – is a key component of that restoration project and an important focus of the film, which was produced by National Geographic Television for the National Geographic Channel in 2010. “American Serengeti,” narrated by Tom Selleck, won the International Wildlife Film Festival’s Best Made in Montana award and was written and produced by Andy Mitchell.
The film’s screening at the Center of the West coincides with this year’s National Bison Day, recently designated by the U.S. Senate. The resolution, introduced by Sens. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., and Tim Johnson, D-S.D., acknowledged bison for their cultural, economic and ecological significance across the American landscape.
It further recognized that bison are integrally linked to Native American culture, are a keystone species that benefit grassland ecosystems, hold significant value for private producers and rural communities, and are considered a symbol of the American West.
The resolution came at the request of the Vote Bison Coalition, which consists of 42 diverse entities representing bison producers, Native Americans, conservationists, educational institutions, sportsmen/recreationists, zoological institutions, health organizations, and businesses. The inaugural National Bison Day was in 2012.
In the early 1900s, bison numbered less than 1,100 after ranging across North America in the tens of millions a century earlier. In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt and others convened a group of diverse stakeholders at the Bronx Zoo in New York City and formed the American Bison Society. The Society developed a new conservation ethic and helped save bison from extinction.
In 1907, 15 Bronx–born bison were sent by the Society to the first big-game refuge in the U.S. – the Wichita Reserve Bison Refuge. Today, bison number in the hundreds of thousands in the U.S. and are found in state and national parks, wildlife refuges, and on tribal and private lands.