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The WOOD BISON ( 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 Alaska
Alaska
, Yukon
Yukon
, western Northwest Territories
Northwest Territories
, northeastern British Columbia
British Columbia
, northern Alberta
Alberta
, and northwestern Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan
.

CONTENTS

* 1 Morphology * 2 Conservation * 3 Diseases * 4 Name * 5 See also * 6 References * 7 External links

MORPHOLOGY

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
Wood bison
also have larger horn cores, darker and woollier pelages, and less hair on their forelegs and beards.

CONSERVATION

Wood bison
Wood bison
in Wood Buffalo National Park Wood bisons including a calf in Nordhorn

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
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 Alaska
Alaska
Wildlife Conservation Center near Anchorage, Alaska
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 6. The Alaska
Alaska
Department of Fish and Game introduced the first herd of 100 animals to the Innoko River area in western Alaska
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 Yakutia
Yakutia
, Russia
Russia
, where the related steppe bison died out over 6000 years ago. Additional bison were sent from Alberta
Alberta
in 2011 and 2013 to Russia
Russia
bringing the total to 120.

DISEASES

Publicly owned free-ranging herds in Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories
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 the Yukon
Yukon
and Northwest Territories
Northwest Territories
all derive from disease-free and morphologically representative founding stock from northern Wood Buffalo National Park in northeastern Alberta
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
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.

NAME

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
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
European bison
.

SEE ALSO

* North America
North America
portal

* Bison
Bison
* Bison
Bison
hunting * Yellowstone Park bison herd * American Bison
Bison
Society * Henry Mountains bison herd * Antelope Island bison herd * History of bison conservation in Canada

REFERENCES

* ^ Gates, C. & Aune, K. 2008. Bison
Bison
bison. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. . Downloaded on 06 September 2012. * ^ 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
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 State Bison
Bison
Herd". Journal of Mammalogy. 85 (5): 924–931. doi :10.1644/BER-029 . * ^ Wilson, G. A.; Strobeck, C. (1999). "Genetic Variation within and Relatedness among Wood and Plains Bison
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
Bison
Restoration in Alaska, Alaska
Alaska
Department of Fish & Game, Division of Wildlife Conservation * ^ Species At Risk Registry: Wood Bison * ^ Canada Helps Restore Wood Bison
Bison
to Alaska
Alaska
in International Conservation Effort to Recover a Threatened Species, Yahoo! Finance, July 9, 2008 * ^ Release of bison into Alaska
Alaska
wilderness put on hold again, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Aug 14, 2011 * ^ http://www.alaskawildlife.org/animals/wood-bison/ * ^ Video, Alaska
Alaska
Dispatch News * ^ Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources - Northwest Territories, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources - Northwest Territories * ^ Gates, Zimov, Stephenson, Chapin. "Wood Bison
Bison
Recovery: Restoring Grazing Systems in Canada, Alaska
Alaska
and Eastern Siberia". Retrieved February 9, 2010. CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link ) * ^ CBC News, " Alberta
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
Bison
troubles", CanWest MediaWorks Publications, 5 October 2006 * ^ CBC News, "More Alberta
Alberta
bison to roam Russia", 23 September, 2013 * ^ Joly, D. O.; Messier, F. (2004-06-16). "Factors affecting apparent prevalence of tuberculosis and brucellosis nubs are amazing". Journal of Animal
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, Fourth Edition

EXTERNAL LINKS