Alaska Department of Fish & Game Update

2022 was a great year for wood bison restoration in Alaska and a record setting year of growth for the wild Lower Innoko and Yukon Rivers herd. On November 28th, ADF&G biologists surveyed the landscape, and they found and photographed 19 groups of bison. This included group sizes from single bulls up to 52 animals.

The wild herd showed an overall 45% growth over last year, with a minimum count of 150 bison in 2022. 19% of the growth occurred naturally from a good calf crop and high survival of yearlings and adults. The other 26% of growth occurred because of the release of 28 captive yearlings into the population in August. The captive yearlings were imported from Canada in April of 2022.

The wild wood bison population is currently around 51% calves and yearlings, which indicates that the herd also has high potential for future growth. Large cohorts of young animals are the first step necessary for a growth spurt in wild populations of ungulates. As this large young cohort ages, it will significantly increase the number of cows of reproductive age, creating more calves and a higher growth rate for the population. Bison cows are most reproductive from 3 to 20 years of age.

Photos © ADF&G

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