The WOOD BISON (
Bison bison athabascae) or MOUNTAIN BISON (often
called the WOOD BUFFALO or MOUNTAIN BUFFALO), is a distinct northern
subspecies or ecotype of the
American bison . Its original
range included much of the boreal forest regions of
Northwest Territories , northeastern
British Columbia ,
Alberta , and northwestern
* 1 Morphology
* 2 Conservation
* 3 Diseases
* 4 Name
* 5 See also
* 6 References
* 7 External links
In comparison to plains bison (the other surviving North American
subspecies/ecotype), wood bison is heavier, with large males weighing
over 900 kg (2,000 lb), making it the largest terrestrial animal in
North America. The highest point of the wood bison is well ahead of
its front legs, while the plains bison's highest point is directly
above the front legs.
Wood bison also have larger horn cores, darker
and woollier pelages, and less hair on their forelegs and beards.
Wood bison in
Wood Buffalo National Park Wood bisons
including a calf in
In addition to the loss of habitat and hunting, wood bison
populations have also been in danger of hybridizing with plains bison,
therefore polluting the genetic stock.
As with other bison, the wood bison's population was devastated by
hunting and other factors. By the early 1900s, they were regarded as
extremely rare or perhaps nearly extinct. However, a herd of about 200
was discovered in
Alberta, Canada , in 1957. This herd has since
recovered to a total population around 2500, largely as a result of
conservation efforts by Canadian government agencies. In 1988, the
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada changed the
subspecies' conservation status from "endangered" to "threatened ,"
where it remains.
On June 17, 2008, 53 Canadian wood bison were transferred from Elk
Island National Park in Alberta, Canada, to the
Conservation Center near Anchorage,
Alaska . There they were to be
held in quarantine for two years, and then reintroduced to their
native habitat in the Minto Flats area near Fairbanks , but this plan
was still on hold until April 7, 2015. In May 2014, the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service published a final rule allowing the
reintroduction of a "non-essential experimental" population of wood
bison into three areas of Alaska. The new regulation took effect June
Alaska Department of Fish and Game introduced the first herd of
100 animals to the Innoko River area in western
Alaska in spring 2015.
Currently, about 7000 wood bison remain in the wild, located in the
Northwest Territories, Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, and Manitoba
In 2006, as part of an international conservation project, an outherd
was established in
Russia , where the related steppe
bison died out over 6000 years ago. Additional bison were sent from
Alberta in 2011 and 2013 to
Russia bringing the total to 120.
Publicly owned free-ranging herds in Alberta, British Columbia,
Yukon, and the
Northwest Territories comprise 90% of existing wood
bison, although six smaller public and private captive-breeding herds
with conservation objectives comprise roughly 10% of the total (n ≈
900). These captive herds and two large isolated free-ranging herds in
Northwest Territories all derive from disease-free and
morphologically representative founding stock from northern Wood
Buffalo National Park in northeastern
Alberta and southern Northwest
Territories. These captive herds are particularly important for
conservation and recovery purposes, because the larger free-ranging
herds in and around
Wood Buffalo National Park were infected with
bovine brucellosis and tuberculosis after 7,000 plains bison were
trans-shipped by barge from
Buffalo National Park near Wainwright,
Alberta , in the 1920s.
Diseases including brucellosis and tuberculosis remain endemic in the
free-ranging herds in and around Wood Buffalo National Park. The
diseases represent a serious management issue for governments, various
local Aboriginal groups , and the cattle industry rapidly encroaching
on the park's boundaries. Disease management strategies and
initiatives began in the 1950s, and have yet to result in a reduction
of the incidence of either disease despite considerable expenditure
and increased public involvement.
The term "buffalo" is sometimes considered to be a misnomer for this
animal, as it is only distantly related to either of the two "true
buffalo", the Asian water buffalo and the
African buffalo . However,
"bison " is a Greek word meaning ox -like animal, while "buffalo"
originated with the French fur trappers who called these massive
beasts bœufs, meaning ox or bullock—so both names, "bison" and
"buffalo", have a similar meaning. Though the name "bison" might be
considered to be more scientifically correct, as a result of standard
usage the name "buffalo" is also considered correct and is listed in
many dictionaries as an acceptable name for American buffalo or bison.
In reference to this animal, the term "buffalo" dates to 1635 in North
American usage when the term was first recorded for the American
mammal. It thus has a much longer history than the term "bison", which
was first recorded in 1774. The
American bison is very closely
related to the wisent or
European bison .
North America portal
Yellowstone Park bison herd
Henry Mountains bison herd
Antelope Island bison herd
History of bison conservation in Canada
* ^ Gates, C. & Aune, K. 2008.
Bison bison. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red
List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. . Downloaded on 06
* ^ Geist, V. (1991). "Phantom Subspecies: The Wood Bison, Bison
bison "athabascae" Rhoads 1897, Is Not a Valid Taxon, but an
Ecotype.". Arctic. 44 (4): 283–300. doi :10.14430/arctic1552 .
* ^ Kay, Charles E.; White, Clifford A. (2001). "Reintroduction of
Bison into the Rocky Mountain Parks of Canada: Historical and
Archaeological Evidence" (PDF). Crossing Boundaries in Park
Management: Proceedings of the 11th Conference on Research and
Resource Management in Parks and on Public Lands. Hancock, Michigan:
George Wright Soc. pp. 143–151. Retrieved December 2, 2009.
* ^ A B Bork, A. M.; Strobeck, C. M.; Yeh, F. C.; Hudson, R. J.;
Salmon, R. K. (1991). "Genetic Relationship of Wood and Plains Bison
Based on Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphisms" (PDF). Canadian
Journal of Zoology. 69 (1): 43–48. doi :10.1139/z91-007 .
* ^ Halbert, Natalie D.; Raudsepp, Terje; Chowdhary, Bhanu P.;
Derr, James N. (2004). "Conservation Genetic Analysis of the Texas
Bison Herd". Journal of Mammalogy. 85 (5): 924–931. doi
* ^ Wilson, G. A.; Strobeck, C. (1999). "Genetic Variation within
and Relatedness among Wood and Plains
Bison Populations". Genome. 42
(3): 483–496. PMID 10382295 . doi :10.1139/gen-42-3-483 .
* ^ Boyd, Delaney P. (2003). Conservation of North American Bison:
Status and Recommendations (PDF) (MS thesis). University of Calgary.
Retrieved December 2, 2009.
* ^ Wood
Bison Restoration in Alaska,
Alaska Department of Fish &
Game, Division of Wildlife Conservation
* ^ Species At Risk Registry: Wood Bison
* ^ Canada Helps Restore Wood
Alaska in International
Conservation Effort to Recover a Threatened Species, Yahoo! Finance,
July 9, 2008
* ^ Release of bison into
Alaska wilderness put on hold again,
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Aug 14, 2011
* ^ http://www.alaskawildlife.org/animals/wood-bison/
* ^ Video,
Alaska Dispatch News
* ^ Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources - Northwest
Territories, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources - Northwest
* ^ Gates, Zimov, Stephenson, Chapin. "Wood
Restoring Grazing Systems in Canada,
Alaska and Eastern Siberia".
Retrieved February 9, 2010. CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list
* ^ CBC News, "
Alberta bison bound for Russia", 14 February 2011
* ^ Edmonton Journal, "Elk Island wood bison big hit in Russia",
Hanneke Brooymans, 5 August 2010
* ^ Edmonton Journal, "
Bison troubles", CanWest MediaWorks
Publications, 5 October 2006
* ^ CBC News, "More
Alberta bison to roam Russia", 23 September,
* ^ Joly, D. O.; Messier, F. (2004-06-16). "Factors affecting
apparent prevalence of tuberculosis and brucellosis nubs are amazing".
Animal Ecology. 7 (4): 623–631. doi
:10.1111/j.0021-8790.2004.00836.x . Retrieved 2009-04-30.
* ^ The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language,