Oct 16, 2018 | Updated: 04:34 PM EDT

Alaska Welcomes Endangered Wood Bison Again

Mar 30, 2015 04:06 PM EDT

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Wood bison will now once again roam in Alaska. They are the largest land mammals of North America and had previously vanished from Alaska about 100 years ago. In 2003, a herd of 13 wood bison was transported from Canada to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage for restoration of the endangered species.

Wood bison resemble the plain bison but are much larger than them. A full grown plain bison weights about 1900 pound whereas a wood bison weights 2250 pounds. They are the natives of Alaska and Canada. But due to hunting done by Athabascan natives, the wood bison became very rare and on the verge of extinction. Later due to discovery of a herd of 200 wood bison in 1957 and lots of efforts by Canadian governmental agencies, the population grew to 2500. The present bison that are being released have come from the same Canadian herd.

The bison were transported by specially designed 20 foot shipping containers with internal gates, ventilation ducts and separate pens for each. This container can transport 7 adult bison at a time or 17 young kids. The animals were given enough room so that they were able to stand while during their journey.

The bison will be released in Shageluk, a rural Alaskan village where their ancestors used to roam. Presently the first group of 30 juvenile wood bison have arrived. The remaining 70 will be transported in several weeks.  Among the 50 females which are being transported, 25 of them are pregnant, so the number of wood bison will gradually increase in future.

The animals are presently kept in temporary pens till they get adapted to the climate and area. Then they will be released 5 miles deep into Innoko Flats.

The wood bison will be gradually monitored till their numbers increase. The residents will not be allowed to hunt them presently but they can after 3 years or more depending on the population of the bison.

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