Wood Bisons

About Wood BisonsAbout Wood Bisons

Wood Bison (also known as mountain bison), are the largest terrestrial animal in North America. Their original range included much of the boreal forest regions of Alaska, Yukon, western Northwest Territories, northeastern British Columbia, northern Alberta, and northwestern Saskatchewan.

Wood Bison are heavier than Plains Bison and they have larger horn cores, darker and woollier pelages, and less hair on their forelegs and beards.

In addition to the loss of habitat and hunting, wood bison populations have also been in danger of hybridizing with plains bison, therefore polluting the genetic stock.

Wood Bison’s numbers were devastated by the early 1900s, they were regarded as extremely rare or perhaps nearly extinct. However, a herd of about 200 was discovered in Alberta, Canada, in 1957. This herd has since recovered to a total population around 2500, largely as a result of conservation efforts by Canadian government agencies. In 1988, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada changed the subspecies' conservation status from "endangered" to "threatened," where it remains today.

Currently, about 7000 wood bison remain in the wild, located in the Northwest Territories, Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, and Manitoba.

In 2006, as part of an international conservation project, an out herd was established in Yakutia, Russia, where the related steppe bison died out over 6000 years ago. Additional bison were sent from Alberta in 2011 and 2013 to Russia bringing the total to 120.