Could Wood Bison See a Comeback in the Last Frontier?

Service seeks comments on proposed wood bison introduction project.

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by Natalie Travis

ANCHORAGE -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a proposal Thursday (1/17) to release wood bison in Alaska.

Potential sites include Minto Flats, the lower Innoko/Yukon River area and Yukon Flats, according to a U.S Fish & Wildlife press release.

The proposal includes a rule that supports the Department of Fish & Game plan to establish a wild population of the species that's been extinct locally for the past few hundred years.

More than 130 animals are being cared for in captivity at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.

"It's an exciting time now because the rule is written and the two agencies have agreed on it," said Mike Miller, Executive Director for the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.  "With that they are the one who control the whole program, and we are just that much closer to releasing them [wood bison] some day."

Service officials are seeking public comment on the rule that proposes to establish wood bison as a nonessential experimental population under the Endangered Species Act.

Public comment is open for 60 days. More information can be found below.

EXCERPT FROM U.S FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICE PRESS RELEASE:

"We are opening a 60-day comment period on the proposed rule and draft EA.

We are especially interested in comments that are supported by data or peer-reviewed studies and those that include citations to, and analysis of, applicable laws and regulations.

Please include sufficient information with your comments to allow us to authenticate any scientific or commercial data you reference or provide.

We particularly seek comments concerning: (1) Any information on the biological or ecological requirements of wood bison; (2) Current or planned activities in the proposed introduction area; and (3) Any information concerning the boundaries of the proposed introduction area.

Submit comments and information on either the proposed rules or the draft EA as follows:
1. Federal eRulemaking Portal: www.regulations.gov. Search for docket FWS-R7-ES-22012-0033 and then follow the instructions for submitting comments.
2. U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R7-ES-2012-0033; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203. Comments submitted to http://www.regulations.gov must be received before midnight (Eastern Time) on the date specified in the DATES section. We will post all comments on www.regulations.gov."

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