North America’s Largest Land Mammal Is Coming Back to the United States

Welcome home, wood bison.

National Journal
Marina Koren
See more stories about...
Marina Koren
May 13, 2014, 11:28 a.m.

Some­time in the last few hun­dred years, the wood bison com­pletely dis­ap­peared from the Alaskan wil­der­ness. Next year, they’re com­ing back.

Thanks to a re­cent de­cision from the U.S. Fish and Wild­life Ser­vice, wood bison will re­turn to a few west­ern parts of the state start­ing in spring 2015, the An­chor­age Daily News re­ports. The ar­range­ment, which has been in the works for nearly a dec­ade, is pending re­view from state law­yers, but con­ser­va­tion of­fi­cials do not fore­see any prob­lems. Wood bison are des­ig­nated as a “threatened” spe­cies in the United States, and es­tab­lish­ing free-ran­ging herds in nat­ur­al hab­it­ats pro­motes long-term sur­viv­al.

Wood bison roamed the Yukon Ter­rit­ory, parts of Canada and Alaska for al­most 10,000 years be­fore the ar­rival of hu­mans. The wood bison — not to be con­fused with its close re­l­at­ive, the plains bison — is the largest land mam­mal in North Amer­ica, weigh­ing in at nearly 2,000 pounds at adult­hood.

Dur­ing the 1800s, the wood bison pop­u­la­tion in Canada was es­tim­ated at 168,000. By the end of the cen­tury, only a few hun­dred re­mained. Dis­eases brought by hu­mans be­fell them, and the sprawl of ag­ri­cul­ture sapped their mead­ow hab­it­at. Today, there are about 4,400 in Canada.

The bison sched­uled for re­lease in­to the wild next year, about 100 of them, will come from the Alaska Wild­life Con­ser­va­tion Cen­ter, which has been caring for a herd since 2003. The cen­ter re­cently wel­comed five new baby bison, and ex­pects the births of an­oth­er 45 calves be­fore the end of the sea­son (watch the new ar­rivals graze here).

The chosen few will be trans­por­ted from the cen­ter, loc­ated in the An­chor­age com­munity of Gird­wood, to the In­noka area, about an hour-long flight to the north­east. The an­im­als will be car­ried on cus­tom trail­ers aboard C-130 air­craft, the same planes used to fly mis­sions in war­time and to com­bat wild­fires.

There’s good news for wood bison in oth­er parts of the world, too. Last month, sev­en fe­male bison raised in cap­tiv­ity in the Brit­ish Isles were re­leased in­to a forest in Ro­mania, where they once roamed years ago.

What We're Following See More »
TAKING A LONG VIEW TO SOUTHERN STATES
In Dropout Speech, Santorum Endorses Rubio
3 days ago
THE DETAILS

As expected after earlier reports on Wednesday, Rick Santorum ended his presidential bid. But less expected: he threw his support to Marco Rubio. After noting he spoke with Rubio the day before for an hour, he said, “Someone who has a real understanding of the threat of ISIS, real understanding of the threat of fundamentalist Islam, and has experience, one of the things I wanted was someone who has experience in this area, and that’s why we decided to support Marco Rubio.” It doesn’t figure to help Rubio much in New Hampshire, but the Santorum nod could pay dividends down the road in southern states.

Source:
‘PITTING PEOPLE AGAINST EACH OTHER’
Rubio, Trump Question Obama’s Mosque Visit
3 days ago
WHY WE CARE

President Obama’s decision to visit a mosque in Baltimore today was never going to be completely uncontroversial. And Donald Trump and Marco Rubio proved it. “Maybe he feels comfortable there,” Trump told interviewer Greta van Susteren on Fox News. “There are a lot of places he can go, and he chose a mosque.” And in New Hampshire, Rubio said of Obama, “Always pitting people against each other. Always. Look at today – he gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims.”

Source:
THE TIME IS NOW, TED
Cruz Must Max Out on Evangelical Support through Early March
3 days ago
WHY WE CARE

For Ted Cruz, a strong showing in New Hampshire would be nice, but not necessary. That’s because evangelical voters only make up 21% of the Granite State’s population. “But from the February 20 South Carolina primary through March 15, there are nine states (South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina) with an estimated white-Evangelical percentage of the GOP electorate over 60 percent, and another four (Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Missouri) that come in over 50 percent.” But after that, he better be in the catbird’s seat, because only four smaller states remain with evangelical voter majorities.

Source:
CHRISTIE, BUSH TRYING TO TAKE HIM DOWN
Rubio Now Winning the ‘Endorsement Primary’
3 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Since his strong third-place finish in Iowa, Marco Rubio has won endorsement by two sitting senators and two congressmen, putting him in the lead for the first time of FiveThirtyEight‘s Endorsement Tracker. “Some politicians had put early support behind Jeb Bush — he had led [their] list since August — but since January the only new endorsement he has received was from former presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham.” Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that fueled by resentment, “members of the Bush and Christie campaigns have communicated about their mutual desire to halt … Rubio’s rise in the polls.”

Source:
7 REPUBLICANS ON STAGE
Carly Fiorina Will Not Be Allowed to Debate on Saturday
2 days ago
THE LATEST

ABC News has announced the criteria for Saturday’s Republican debate, and that means Carly Fiorina won’t be a part of it. The network is demanding candidates have “a top-three finish in Iowa, a top-six standing in an average of recent New Hampshire polls or a top-six placement in national polls in order for candidates to qualify.” And there will be no “happy hour” undercard debate this time. “So that means no Fiorina vs. Jim Gilmore showdown earlier in the evening for the most ardent of campaign 2016 junkies.

Source:
×