Wood Bison Reintroduction Update
By Jordan Schaul | National Geographic | January 23, 2013
According to a Reuters report, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) have agreed to designate a captive population of wood bison a “non-essential, experimental” herd.
Through negotiations that culminated in drafting the 10 (j) rule, which is a provision under the Endangered Species Act that allows for more flexible management of population with this “non-essential, experimental” designation, Alaska’s captive and only extant wood bison herd is now a step closer to being reintroduced into the wild.
Currently, managed at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, which is a game animal sanctuary south of Anchorage, the herd has grown from a little more than a few head of bison to approximately 130 animals.
The wood bison is the largest terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere, reaching a size larger than the more common subspecies of American bison, the plains bison, which is often referred to as its southern cousin.
As mentioned in an earlier post regarding this reintroduction project, “This effort will not only increase the worldwide population of wood bison but will be a significant event in northern ecosystem restoration efforts, resulting in the re-establishment of a keystone grazing herbivore to what were once natural-grazed ecological communities.”
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MEET THE AUTHOR
Jordan Carlton SchaulWith training in wildlife ecology, conservation medicine, and comparative psychology, Dr. Schaul's contributions to Nat Geo Voices have covered a range of environmental and social topics. He draws particular attention to the plight of imperiled species highlighting issues at the juncture or nexus of sorta situ wildlife conservation and applied animal welfare. Sorta situ conservation practices are comprised of scientific management and stewardship of animal populations ex situ (in captivity / 'in human care') and in situ (free-ranging / 'in nature'). He also has a background in behavior management and training of companion animals and captive wildlife and conservation marketing and digital publicity. Jordan has shared interviews with colleagues and public figures, as well as editorial news content. In addition, he has posted narratives describing his own work, which include the following examples: • Restoration of wood bison to the Interior of Alaska (As Animal Curator at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and courtesy professor at the University of Alaska) • Rehabilitation of orphaned sloth bears exploited for tourists in South Asia (As executive consultant 'in-residence' at the Agra Bear Rescue Center managed by Wildlife SOS) • Censusing small wild cat (e.g. ocelot and margay) populations in the montane cloud forests of Costa Rica for popular publications with 'The Cat Whisperer' Mieshelle Nagelschneider • Evaluating the impact of ecotourism on marine mammal population stability and welfare off the coast of Mexico's Sea of Cortez (With Boston University's marine science program) Jordan was a director on boards of non-profit wildlife conservation organizations serving nations in Africa, North and South America and Southeast Asia. He is also a consultant to a human-wildlife conflict mitigation organization in the Pacific Northwest. Following animal curatorships in Alaska and California, he served as a charter board member of a zoo advocacy and outreach organization and later as its executive director. Jordan was a member of the Communication and Education Commission of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (CEC-IUCN) and the Bear Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (BSG-SSC-IUCN). He has served on the advisory council of the National Wildlife Humane Society and in service to the Bear Taxon Advisory Group of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA Bear TAG). In addition, he was an ex officio member of the council of the International Association for Bear Research and Management.