University of Alaska Fairbanks LARS receives 40 Wood Bison for repopulation program

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Published: Apr. 26, 2022 at 4:39 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The University of Alaska Fairbanks Large Animal Research Station (LARS) recently received 40 Wood Bison as part of a repopulation program.

According to Tom Seaton, Wood Bison Project Biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the herd arrived on April 14th from Elk Island National Park in Alberta Canada.

“All these calves are 11 month old calves,” Seaton explained. “They were born last year and so they’ll come to their birthday right around next month. These young calves are the most resilient to shipping and moving and handling and things like that, And that’s why we’ve chosen to to get all these young animals.”

This herd of calves will be spending 30 days in isolation at LARS before they are shipped out to other bison populations in their natural habitat in Western Alaska.

“It’s on the lower Yukon and the Innoko river there,” Seaton elaborated. “There’s a population that’s been out there since 2015 and we can add some more to it. There’s also other options that that still yet need to be explored like Minto flats and Yukon flats and things like that.”

According to Seaton, this program is working to help repopulate the Wood Bison species which has been recovering for decades. “The number one reason to do this is to help bison themselves. They almost went extinct in the 1940s, and they’ve been recovering since then. So establishing more populations of them in the wild helps them get farther from extinction. Once they get established and there’s a harvestable surplus then we can use them for hunting and they can help people in that way.”

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