Ak Hunting News: More on Wood Bison Restoration in Alaska
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From an Alaska Wildlife News article by Riley Woodford:
A few hundred years ago, massive wood bison and musk oxen roamed the meadows of Interior Alaska. Steller sea cows and spectacled cormorants inhabited Aleutian waters. But by 1900, these animals were gone.
It’s too late to bring back the Steller sea cow and the spectacled cormorant – these animals are extinct. And while musk oxen and wood bison were extirpated from Alaska, populations survived in Greenland and Canada. In the 1930s, musk oxen were reintroduced to Alaska, and now several thousand animals inhabit about six different regions of the state.
Many Alaskans hope the same thing can happen with wood bison. These oversize cousins to the plains bison are the largest land animal in North America and still inhabit a few areas in western Canada. Bob Stephenson, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Yukon Flats area biologist, began work on wood bison reintroduction in the early 1990s, in partnership with tribal councils and others. ADFG has found that wood bison restoration has broad appeal and is supported by Native groups, hunters, conservation organizations and biologists outside the department of Fish and Game. But times have changed since the days of the musk oxen restoration, and reintroducing wood bison to Alaska has met some surprising hurdles.
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