What’s Happenin’, Bison?

“What did AWCC say to the herd when they were released in 2015?”

Even though we said good-bye to our wood bison in 2015 for the state’s first ever Wood Bison Reintroduction Project, we’ve been keeping a close eye on them: the Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G) has tracked the number of calves being born in the wild herd!

The first calf of the season was spotted nursing on a beaver dam near Holy Cross, Alaska.

During the spring of 2015, the first spring after their release, 16 calves were born – this means the mothers were pregnant during the release. In the spring of 2016, 17 calves were born. So far this season, 15 calves have been born. This is a total of 48 calves since their release! This is incredible news!

During December of 2016, the lead wood bison biologist on the project, Tom Seaton, was able to temporarily capture and radio-collar 12 bison. Radio collars are how ADF&G track the bison throughout the year. During the temporary capture, accelerated growth among the younger bison was found.

Now while in the wild, the wood bison are expected to have predators. Bears and wolves are two are the most common predators in the area. During the tracking of the bison over the past 2 years, both of these predators have been seen roaming near the herd. Wood bison are incredibly social animals – hence the herd. One way the herd is beneficial is when predators are near: two larger bison will confront the predators, typically scaring the predators away. It is believed the incredible size and speed of the bison help to scare and avoid such predators.

As of April 16, 2017, the former AWCC residents were spotted near Holy Cross, Alaska. It is very likely that this herd will have many more calves throughout the summer season.

Stay tuned for more updates!
Bye-Sons! (Sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves!)

*Information given by Mike Tara, Education & Outreach Specialist at ADF&G
*All photos courtesy of ADF&G

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