On April 3, 2015, Tom Seaton, bison biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, opened the gates and led the bison to their new home. The herd followed his snowmobile across the Innoko River to the sedge and grass meadows in the Lower Innoko and Yukon Rivers area. This area provides excellent habitat for the animals, and the local people are supportive and excited to see wood bison reintroduced.
One-hundred bison, ranging in size from about 200 lbs to more than 1300 lbs, were released to establish the population. SCI Foundation was there as the animals were placed in special shipping containers at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC) between March 22-24, trucked from Portage to Anchorage International Airport, and flown 340 miles west to the village of Shageluk.
Each bison is wearing a radio collar to allow them to be intensively monitored. Over the next two years biologist will learn where the bison roam and how they are impacting their habitat and environment.
SCI Foundation is overjoyed to see its hard work finally coming to fruition. Reestablishing the Alaska herd will not only benefit other species, it will eventually become a resource of Alaska to manage sustainably for the benefit of the people and boost tourism for the state. SCI Foundation prides itself on being First for Wildlife. We are immensely proud to be involved in this monumental effort and to see wood bison released back into their native habitat.
Video footage of the river crossing to freedom is available at: https://vimeo.com/124239861
For More info on SCIF involvement see our other blog posts!
For more information on bison in Alaska, visit: http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=woodbison.main