First Bison Calf In 100 Years Born in Alaska Wilderness

First Bison Calf In 100 Years Born in Alaska Wilderness

Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) officials are pleased to report that the first wild-born calves in a century were spotted during a recent aerial survey in the state’s Innoko River region. The exciting news is all thanks to a 20-year-old wood bison reintroduction project.

 “I felt like having a baby shower or something. It's just huge!” said Cathie Harms, regional program manager for the ADFG. “It’s like the completion of the circle,” she added, as the bison that were relocated to the wild acclimate to their surroundings.

According to Safari Club International, the SCI Foundation—funded by hunters’ contributions—has been involved with the reintroduction effort for the past 10 years. It actively supports the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC) holding facility, and is a member of the Wood Bison Restoration Advisory Group.

“Our donations assisted with bringing bison from Alberta to Alaska, helped with expanding and outfitting the AWCC, and helped move bison to the release site,” said SCI Foundation President Joe Hosmer. “We also assisted from our Washington, D.C. office, working with the federal government on the details of this restoration effort since it involves an endangered species. The regulatory processes necessary to move this rare species into the United States was complex, and there was a time when we thought it would never happen. That’s why this day is so special.”

Reintroduction was no small task as bison were transported from the AWCC by cargo plane to the Innoko National Wildlife Refuge. The animals are currently in a holding facility at the release site to help them to get comfortable with their new environment before the official reintroduction. The initial release will be gradual, carefully monitored by the ADFG. The plan is to add bison to the herd until 2017 to ensure long-term population survival.