Wood Bison Update

Conservation, News

Alaska’s wild wood bison population is prospering. One young cow is capturing the hearts of rural communities across western Alaska as she explores the lower Kuskokwim. Since her release in 2015, bison 124 has been on the move. By August of this year, she had been sighted by folks near Aniak, Kalskag, Bethel, Kwethluk, Tuntatuliak, and Eek. During an aerial survey on Tuesday, biologists saw her near Quinhagak on the coast of the Bering Sea.

Despite being over 200 miles from her release point near Shageluk, she is in excellent body condition and appears to be one of the fattest wild bison in the State. During her amazing journey, bison 124 has become an important contributor to wood bison conservation as she identifies suitable habitat where future generations of bison may prosper.

While bison 124 was exploring the Bering coast, 98% of the herd has remained within 50 miles of their release point near Shageluk. During the last eight months there have been no known mortalities in the herd which is amazing for any group of wild animals. The population is increasing and currently has about 138 individuals. The excellent body condition of these animals suggests that this experimental population is well on its way to succeeding in the wild.

Photo map credit: Alaska Department of Fish & Game

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