ADFG News Release: Wood Bison’s Death Leaves Void That Could Slow Herd’s Expansion

Arcticwildman

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(FAIRBANKS) – Alaska’s fledgling wood bison herd lost an important member Friday when Bison No. 124 was illegally shot and killed near the village of Quinhagak. Alaska Wildlife Troopers are investigating the incident. The bison was salvaged and donated to a Bethel charity.
Bison 124 was among 130 wood bison released along the lower Innoko and Yukon rivers between April and June 2015 as part of the Alaska Wood Bison Restoration Project. The area was selected for its excellent habitat and strong community support.
A wanderer that captured the hearts of rural communities across western Alaska, Bison 124 was a young cow known for its extensive exploration of the Yukon, Kuskokwim, and Innoko drainages. Residents of Grayling, Anvik, Shageluk, Holy Cross, Kalskag, Aniak, Russian Mission, Akiachuk, Kwethluk, Tuntutuliak, Eek, and Bethel welcomed the animal and enjoyed watching it explore new habitat. Many remarked that its appearance marked the beginning of more to come and should be respected.
Bison 124 had a knack for identifying suitable habitat where future generations of bison could prosper, making it an important contributor to wood bison conservation. Valuable knowledge the animal gained can no longer be shared with the main herd and is now lost. As a result, the herd’s expansion into the lower Kuskokwim area may require significantly more time which could delay opportunities for area residents to enjoy wood bison as a resource.
"This is a sad loss,” said Tom Seaton, a state wildlife biologist who oversees the wood bison restoration project. “Many local residents have called to express their disappointment with this restoration setback."
Wood bison inhabited Alaska and northwestern Canada for thousands of years. Their numbers declined in the 1800s and the animals were eventually declared extinct until a small herd was discovered in Canada in 1957. From that herd, conservation efforts have resulted in about 5,000 wood bison in seven wild herds in Canada. Skeletal remains and oral histories from Alaska Natives in the eastern Interior indicate wood bison disappeared from Alaska within the past 200 years, likely from a combination of habitat change and unregulated hunting. Prior to the 2015 reintroduction, wood bison were last seen in eastern Alaska in the 1920s.
Wood bison are grazers, filling a niche left empty in Alaska’s boreal forest ecosystem since the animals disappeared. Wood bison are a slightly larger subspecies than the plains bison, which roam the Lower 48 plains states, and are larger and more adapted to northern areas. Population models suggest the 130 animals reintroduced to Alaska in 2015 could grow to about 250 by 2021 and to 500 by about 2030.
 

c6 batmobile

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I hope they find the person that did it and charge him. Revoke all hunting privileges, pfd privileges etc. for life.
 

BRWNBR

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LOL! Man I wish I could remember who said it and where. But when this was all beginning someone in here said don't put them near a village cause they'll get shot!! Ahhh village Alaska just living up to its expectations....
 

c6 batmobile

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LOL! Man I wish I could remember who said it and where. But when this was all beginning someone in here said don't put them near a village cause they'll get shot!! Ahhh village Alaska just living up to its expectations....

Its a shame that's the expectation and in this case and many others the reality. I just don't understand people that go around thinking they are above the law.
 

AK Bearcat

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What I would like to say, I can not!!!!! Guess that this was to expected, another sad day for all Alaskans!!!
 

sambuck12

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...Shot and left to rot... And unit 23 is closed to non local hunters because "there isn't enough caribou to go around". There would be enough if critters didn't get shot and left to rot. (By locals)
 

Tyin 1 On

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Hope they get em, this must of been a really strong cow to make a statement that one missing from the herd is gonna make a void in the expansion. Is this the only one to have died so far?
 

BRWNBR

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Other write ups indicate that posters had been hung in that village advising people not to shoot her.
 

jwfishak

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...Shot and left to rot... And unit 23 is closed to non local hunters because "there isn't enough caribou to go around". There would be enough if critters didn't get shot and left to rot. (By locals)

Fact right there. Gross wanton waste of fish and game and the biggest travesty, it's acceptable and ok within the villages. And they wonder why animals have a hard time coming back from decline. Example, a literal boatload of villagers come cruising down the river, deploy a salvo of at least a dozen rounds from 4 different rifles at a Moose, cripple the poor creature, then decide it's running away too fast so "let's go find a different one". Or shoot two Moose, in season, but leave them lay because they decided it would be "too hard" to haul the meat back to town. Or, gut shoot a calf muskox with a .22 a bunch of times and let it die slowly, then let it rot and bloat. How about a decline in King Salmon in certain waters of Southwest AK but they say let's go net them anyway because it's a god given right, even though they may totally obliterate an entire DNA strain of King Salmon from one of the many small tributaries because the runs are so small they can barely even support a return 4 years from now. Or go shoot a buncha seals and stack them like cordwood but not get to tending to them until they are bloated and rotten and the skin isnt fit for nothing, and the ravens and wild village dogs have torn them up, then they go and just throw them away. Or shoot a buncha caribou and let them sit until they rot, and the ravens and wild village dogs have savaged them. But there will always be more next year, so let's go shoot em' up.
 

iofthetaiga

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Gross wanton waste of fish and game and the biggest travesty, it's acceptable and ok within the villages.
Good thing that crap never happens in the valley, eh? 'Cause otherwise people who like to make a habit of ragging on village folks might come off sounding like bigoted hypocrites.:rolleyes:
 

323

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Good thing that crap never happens in the valley, eh? 'Cause otherwise people who like to make a habit of ragging on village folks might come off sounding like bigoted hypocrites.:rolleyes:

Yeah cause the folks in valley are running around shooting endangered wood bison... pretty sure your bros in delta jct have a bigger wanton waste problem from local populace not being able to judge legal bull moose... one day we will all be at your level of holiness..
 

SmokeRoss

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Place I lived and worked on the West Coast. Driving the highway on the Rez. I spot 2 deer playing in the surf on the beach. In all the years I lived and worked there, NEVER saw deer on that road. As I sat and watched, 2 Rez members pulled up, bailed out with there rifles and let loose a volley. If they had taken their time, they could have head shot both deer, but instead hammered them in multiple places. When the carnage was done, I asked why they would shoot the only 2 deer for miles around. "Cause we have never seen deer here before and wanted to get them before someone else did." Most places on the Rez in those days were sadly lacking in game animals even though it was prime habitat. There was a plethora of bears though cause they didn't hunt them. Said the bears were their 'dead brothers' but it was o.k. if I hunted them, and I did. Harvested lots of them there, and ate their flesh. Attitudes there were very different from mine.
Oh, and those deer they killed? Pregnant females in the spring.
 

tlingitwarrior

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Good thing that crap never happens in the valley, eh? 'Cause otherwise people who like to make a habit of ragging on village folks might come off sounding like bigoted hypocrites.:rolleyes:

There is ugly, unseemly behavior in all parts of society. However, there are those who love highlight this activity in rural Alaska, absolutely no doubt.

To the question earlier about previous loss of wood bison, they lost a few to drowning. I'm sure a few calves have succumbed to predators as well.
 

BRWNBR

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This one is a easy highlight since they wrote arcticles on it. More high profile than most. The irony to me
Is that they spread the word in that village NOT to shoot her. I remember village life, there were certainly more highlights when living there than anywhere else I've ever been! Lol
Perhaps it's the small town thing...everyone knows....everything....
 

Yukon Cornelius

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LOL! Man I wish I could remember who said it and where. But when this was all beginning someone in here said don't put them near a village cause they'll get shot!! Ahhh village Alaska just living up to its expectations....

Youdo
You do realize that the village it was shot by, was quite a ways from where it was released. This is the first one to be poached since their release. I wonder how long it would have taken for one to be poached if it was released on the road?

I also know that the GASH communities, which is the original release point, are pissed about this shooting.
 

Yukon Cornelius

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Hope they get em, this must of been a really strong cow to make a statement that one missing from the herd is gonna make a void in the expansion. Is this the only one to have died so far?
Ib
I believe around 20 have been lost. There was an ice fall through accident last winter (I believe around 10 died) and then some others. Very few have been taken by predators, which is a good thing.
 

BRWNBR

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Yes I realize this. When they saw her heading towards that village she was eventually shot at another article stated that the village was notified and asked not to shoot her.
 

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Be interesting if the Feds pursue charges under ESA.
 

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