I just got the latest Wood Bison News in the mail (issue 10) and thought it was an interesting enough read to post. Interestingly enough, it's estimated that prior to modern times, there were up to 160,000 wood bison in AK.
I'd seen the moose migration map of the last 100 years and the elders up in Kotzebue region note not seeing any moose there prior to the 1950s.
It'd be fantastic to see these animals spread widely across AK and be widely huntable. I hope they do more transplants.
Really great success story! Congratulations to Alaska Game and Fish in their efforts to bring this species back from extinction in Alaska! Should only be a few years until the population is large enough for hunting!
The wolves are a pathway to expanding federal government control over the western US. The wolf “reintroduction” was a prelude to limiting/eliminating hunting by humans, logging, livestock grazing, mining, petroleum extraction, etc.
Treeline gets it. Sadly most hunters do not. If the treehuggers were ACTUALLY interested in animals, nature, the ecosystem, etc. they would be pushing for reintroduction/expanding ALL species, including bison. But they ONLY care about predators. Why?
In the "little known facts" department regarding the reintroduction of Wood Bison to Alaska...
This project was ready to go along time ago. The bison were brought to Alaska from Canada and stashed in pens near Portage. BUT, the project was but sidelined for YEARS because of the... wait for it.... the US Fish and Wildlife Service. FWS objected to the transplant for two reasons.
First, they tried to ignore the tons of data showing that Wood Bison had roamed Alaska for years in the past. We have skulls, bones, etc in museums all over the state. FWS did not put any credence on the oral history contributions of the Athabascans of the Yukon Flats and Upper Yukon/Black River country. FWS claimed that wood bison were not native to Alaska and thus this was not a REintroduction.
Next, the FWS was upset that the St of Alaska insisted that when the population built up after a while, that we be allowed to hunt them. This culminated in another few years of FWS bureaucratic wrangling to designate the bison as a special exception (I think its called 10-j "experimental population" or some such) so that we could begin to hunt this "endangered species" when we had developed a surplus.
Bottom line? When the FWS wants to "reintroduce" a species (like wolves for instance) its balls to the wall to get it done and who cares what states and affected citizens think.
But when a STATE wants to reintroduce a species and "Gasp" maybe hunt it in the future, FWS drags their feet for years and years.
A regrettable double standard that tends to show the true colors of a once fine federal agency that has turned into little more than another bunch of environmental whackadoodles.
I'm glad that ADFG stuck to their guns and got this accomplished. And thanks to SCI and the villagers in the Innoko area for sticking with us to get it done.
I hunted Wood bison in Alberta in 2005. We were wayyyy back in the woods and I turned to Earl and said let's go over by that small cabin. He said "What small cabin?" I said that one over there, and I pointed......then the Wood Bison stood up. They are an immense animal......the only North American mammal that is larger, is the pinnipeds (there is your new word for the day....aka....the Pacific Walrus). I killed mine with one shot, and when that arrow hit him, he switched ends in an instant. He thought that he'd been horned by another bull, and he was ready to rumble. A Wood Bison had killed a gun hunter the year before I went up there (2005). My hunting buddy shot one with an 30-06 several times before it went down. I got that entire bull butchered (the back straps were over 5 feet long) and the guide came up to me and told me that my bull had tested positive for tuberculosis. All of the meat was to be confiscated and destroyed......man, was I bummed......sure hope that they didn't have a party after I left.......I can hear it now...."Can you BELIEVE that he fell for the tuberculosis routine!!....LOL!!".......now let's get all of this meat into our freezers!!
Shooting a wood bison here in Alaska is on my bucket list.
Considering that it took me 37 years to draw a plains bison tag here, I'm guessing that I will go to my grave without the wood bison! Meanwhile, it is great to know that they are once again wild in Alaska and that a bunch of calves are being born every Spring.
Pete: I hear you. I've been applying for bison in AK since I was about 12. I keep applying even though I've since moved out of state and the odds have dropped so much I don't hold hope of ever pulling a tag. I was blessed to join my dad and sis on each of their respecive bison hunts, but they pulled tags back in the day when it was "easy" compared to now.