There’s a new creature in the United States Capitol. No, it’s not from the swamp. It’s our national mammal—a bison from South Dakota.
A couple weeks ago, U.S. Sen. John Thune, a South Dakota Republican, welcomed a stuffed bison head to his office in the Capitol. As the Senate Republican Whip, Thune has two offices on Capitol grounds—a personal office in the Dirksen Building and a Whip office, which is located inside the Capitol, just off the Senate floor.
The National Bison Association presented the bison head to Sen. Thune, who represents the largest bison producing state in the country. There to hand over the mammoth taxidermy wonder was NBA executive director Dave Carter, NBA members Mortz Espy of South Dakota and Donnis Baggett of Texas, and South Dakota taxidermist Gary English from Golden Hill Taxidermy.
Sen. Thune was spotted by several news reporters with cameras pushing the enormous head on a cart through the Capitol, a sight that is rarely seen. The large dark brown bison looks pretty darn majestic against the office’s blue walls and beautiful chandelier.
“We’re very excited, and it’s a great honor to have and to be able to see, mounted on our wall, a bison from South Dakota, and to be able to say thank you to the people who made that possible—the Bison Association, the taxidermist and certainly all those out there who raise bison, not only in South Dakota, but across the country,” Thune said.
“The bison is so associated with the landscape of South Dakota and such an important part of our heritage, of our history. People who settled in our part of the world needed it for food, for shelter and clothing, and it continues to this day to be a very majestic creature, and one that in our state we are very proud of.”
However, Sen. Thune isn’t the only senator to have large taxidermy mounted on their office wall.
According to NBA, Sens. John Hoeven, a North Dakota Republican; and Mike Rounds, a South Dakota Republican; both have bison heads mounted on their walls. Congresswoman Carol Miller, a West Virginia Republican, as well as owner and operator of Swann Ridge Bison Farm, also has a bison on her office wall.
Sen. Hoeven also has a large wildcat of sorts in one of his meeting rooms, though my research turned up no specifics.
After mounting Thune’s bison head, NBA said, “…we had to break the news to Sen. Jerry Moran’s office that there was a new, larger herd bull on Capitol Hill.” Previously, Sen. Moran had the largest bison head on Capitol Hill.
Though its home is now in Washington, Congressional rules prohibit a permanent gift, so this bison is on loan from Slim Buttes Buffalo Ranch.
On Twitter, Sen. Thune has put out a call for names. He’ll pick the top three, then create a final poll for folks to vote. What would you name a stuffed bison?
Editor’s note: Seymour Klierly writes Washington Whispers for the Journal from inside the Beltway.