Top Interior Story

Wood Bison 1

They are the largest land animal in north america - and, until a hundred years ago, great herds of wood bison used to roam the grassy plains of alaska's interior. Today the only herd of wood bison left in america is here at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. What they plan to do with it is pretty special, Your Alaska Link's Caroline Flynn has more. It's here, in the grassy plains of Alaska, where the largest mammal of the western hemisphere will reign once again. This program is the culmination of more than 20 years of looking into the issue. Several folks have even dedicated their careers to this very moment. "At this stage were looking at putting wood bison on all the landscapes in the spring of 2015. There is going to be quite of few people who have been working on this for a long time, who are going to be very happy." The excitement sparked, after an area biologist from Fort Yukon, Alaska made a startling discovery during a river trip. The site he was visiting was missing something. He stopped, saw grasses and sedges and thought that is what bison eat. I wonder why there aren't any bison here. After doing much research, he discovered a dark secret. For centuries, a wood bison's presence was evident in alaska according to oral histories. But now, only skeletal fragments remain. "We are not a hundred percent sure why they disapeared but research shows it was likely due to a slight changing in habitat with the concentrating the best bison habitat in low lands near rivers which were used as highways and perhaps unregulated hunting played a role in that as well. Biologists from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game did note, that the demand in putting these native species back into their natural habitat was crucial. "This is one the rare chances that wild biologists to get to actually restore a missing part to an ecosystem that hasn't been there in awhile." Finally, back and forth talk for two decades is becoming real life. "It is rare for anybody gets to work on a project that gives so much to future generations." Just a little over a decade ago, Canada delivered thirteen wood bison to a wildlife conservation center just sixty miles south of Anchorage - to prep for the repopulation effect here in Alaska. Between May and July you can find almost a dozen orange red calves hiding in the bushes. They are the future of this project - and we will discover their destiny tomorrow when we run part two of this series. Read more »

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