Government of Canada

Government of Canada

July 08, 2008 19:00 ET

Canada Helps Restore Wood Bison to Alaska in International Conservation Effort to Recover a Threatened Species

PORTAGE, ALASKA--(Marketwire - July 8, 2008) - Canada's Environment Minister John Baird and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin officially welcomed 53 Canadian wood bison to their new home at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, in Portage, Alaska. The bison were transferred from Elk Island National Park of Canada on June 17, 2008 in an effort to repopulate the wood bison in their native habitat.

"This transfer is a historic moment for our two countries as we celebrate the protection and recovery of a species at risk - especially for such an iconic species as the wood bison," said Minister Baird. "Our Government is committed to the recovery of species at risk such as the threatened wood bison, not just in Canada, but throughout its historic range. We are pleased to assist in the re-introduction of wood bison to Alaska."

The Government of Alaska requested this transfer from Canada to assist in the reintroduction of the wood bison in Alaska as part of an effort to recover this species.

The bison is currently listed as threatened under the Canada Species at Risk Act.

"The State of Alaska is proud to be working with the Government of Canada, United States federal agencies and several private organizations to expand wood bison conservation efforts in North America. Alaskans strongly support restoring wood bison in our state," said Governor Palin. "Re-establishing free ranging wood bison herds will enhance Alaska's wildlife resources and provide benefits to Alaskans and visitors to our state for many years to come. It will also be a major step forward in helping ensure the long term survival of this magnificent animal."

The bison will be held for about two years by the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, in Portage, until plans are completed to release the animals into the wild. The intention of this project is to establish a wild population of wood bison in the interior of Alaska where they once roamed.

The transfer of wood bison from Canada to Alaska is a major milestone in the Alaska wood bison restoration project. This bison transfer is also an important part of Canada's goal to ensure healthy herds of bison, not only in Canada, but in other parts of their historic range.

Parks Canada Agency, through Elk Island National Park of Canada, has a long and successful history of relocating healthy herds of animals throughout North America. In Canada, relocations have been made in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the Yukon Territory. In 2006, wood bison were a successfully relocated to Russia (Yakutia of the Russian Federation).

For more information, visit the following websites:

Wood Bison in Canada - www.speciesatrisk.gc.ca

Elk Island National Park of Canada and the bison management program - www.pg.gc.ca/elkisland

Also available on the Internet at www.pc.gc.ca under Media Room.

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of the Environment
    Eric Richer
    Press Secretary
    819-997-1441
    or
    Alaska Department of Fish and Game
    Tim Barry
    Special Assistant to the Commissioner
    907-465-6137
    or
    Parks Canada
    Media Relations
    819-994-3023
    or
    Environment Canada
    Media Relations
    819-934-8008 or 1-888-908-8008
    or
    Alaska Department of Fish and Game
    Media Relations
    907-459-7231