In a profoundly EPIC move, The United States has officially named the American Bison its national mammal! The great bison will join the majestic oak (national tree), the rose (national floral emblem), and the bald eagle (national emblem) as official symbols of America! The National Bison Legacy Act which was signed into law yesterday has gifted this country with a National symbol that embodies power, resilience, and regeneration. At EPIC we couldn’t be more excited to celebrate this iconic mammal and look into the profound effects this will have on the ecology of our continent!
The bison, North America’s largest land mammal, once roamed the continent in numbers greater than 60,000,000! Single herds of these majestic creatures could easily contain over 6,000,000 animals and take over a week to migrate through a single area. Most often recognized for their brute strength and wild spirit, the iconic bison possess an uncanny ability to positively impact the land on which it feeds. Through brilliant evolution and symbiotic relationships with grasslands, bison are equipped to fertilize soil through urine and defection, aerate the earth with their hooves, and disperse seeds of grasses, sedges, and forbs. As a result, grasslands grew these large herds of mammals and the bison symbiotically enriched the health of the soil thereby increasing the fertility of the grasslands.
At the turn of the 20th century, the bison population was utterly decimated through the intensive hunting patterns of our ancestors. At its lowest point, there were approximately 1,000 animals left on earth. The resurrection of the American bison population through conservation efforts was the first major wildlife recovery project in world history. Over the last 100 years conservationists, ranchers, and politicians have created an environment in which the bison population has restored to healthy levels.
A keystone mammal, biologically engineered to restore plains and prairie ecosystems, large herds of bison represent one of our greatest opportunities to help restore damaged grasslands and increase biodiversity in our country. Asides from creating beautiful natural landscapes, prairie ecosystems are positioned to effectively sequester carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the soil (where it belongs). These large bodies of grasslands are also fantastic at retaining and storing water thereby mitigating the severe impacts of floods and droughts. Lastly, prairie ecosystems create biologically diverse centers that host thousands of migratory birds and native mammals.
It is clear that the regeneration of these grasslands have the potential to positively impact the world on which we depend and EPIC is committed to accelerating that through partnering with organizations and ranchers who focus on the proper management of these systems. As the largest purchaser of bison meat in the United States, EPIC has worked to responsibly grow the bison population since inception. In 2013 we struggled to find more than 8 grass finished bison each month to use in our products. To our surprise, the large majority of these animals were consuming diets of grain and not being managed in a responsible way. Since then we have pushed hard to convert ranchers from grain feeding their bison to finishing them on grass. Today, EPIC has incentivized/converted enough ranchers that our supply chain has grown by 10X! Additionally, we have have worked hand in hand with The Savory Institute to train ranchers on regenerative land management. Currently The Savory Institute has influenced the positive management of 2,340,495 hectares of land!
Join EPIC in celebrating one of the most important mammals in North America. Through continued support of herd expansion and rewarding ranchers who are grass feeding their bison, we hope to further accelerate the growth of the bison population in this country! Onwards to the return of the majestic bison! Onwards to large-scale grassland restoration!