28 wood bison yearlings transported into the Alaskan wild
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Along the lower Innoko River in west central Alaska lives a group of wild wood bison.
They are about to be joined by 28 yearlings as part of an effort to restore the species population.
According to Darren Bruning, Fish and Game Coordinator with the Division of Wildlife Conservation, “This is a result of a truly international effort of interest in conservation of wild bison which includes wood bison in Alaska.”
The addition of these bison into the wild, it is hoped, will strengthen the species’ genetic pool. “Wood bison are not numerous overall in the wild and they’re very reduced numbers in the United States, and so this effort is going to add to the numbers of wild wood bison in North America,” Bruning said.
The wood bison were captured at Elk Island National Park in Alberta, Canada.
Once deemed fit to travel, they were moved to Alaska. After being held temporarily at the Large Animal Research Station in Fairbanks, on Wednesday, July 20 the animals were trucked down to Nenana.
Bison are the largest land mammals in North America, and transporting them them to Nenana involved the use of semis with containers.
There, the animals boarded a barge. “They’ll be transported roughly, more than 700, 700 to 800 miles on the Yukon and Innoko Rivers to the release site,” explained Bruning.
When they arrive, they’ll be kept in a holding pen to get used to their surroundings. “Then when we have high confidence we can join them with the wild bison that are already in that area, then the pen will be opened and those bison will walk out into the wild.”
The animals have all been fitted with radio collars, and their movement will be tracked in the future.
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