NEW YORK (APRIL 29, 2008) Bison can repopulate large areas from Alaska to Mexico over the next 100 years provided a series of conservation and restoration measures are taken, according to continental assessment of this iconic species by the Wildlife Conservation Society and other groups. The assessment was authored by a diverse group of conservationists, scientists, ranchers, and Native Americans/First Nations peoples, and appears in the April issue of the journal Conservation Biology.
The authors say that ecological restoration of bison, a keystone species in American natural history, could occur where conservationists and others see potential for large, unfettered landscapes over the next century. The general sites identified in the paper range from grasslands and prairies in the southwestern U.S., to Arctic lowland taiga in Alaska where the sub-species wood bison could once again roam. Large swaths of mountain forests and grasslands are identified as prime locations across Canada and the U.S., while parts of the desert in Mexico could also again support herds that once lived there.
The researchers assessed the restoration potential of these areas by creating a conservation scorecard that evaluated the availability of existing habitat, potential for interaction with other native species, such as elk, carnivores, prairie dogs, and grassland birds, and a variety of other factors, including the socio-economic climate of the regions and the potential for cultural re-connection with bison. The higher the score of these factors, the more likely restoration could take place over time.
The bison is one of the great living symbols of North America, said the papers lead author, Dr. Eric Sanderson of the Wildlife Conservation Society. This assessment shows us what is possible; that with hard work and ambitious goals, we can restore this iconic species to a surprising amount of its form
|Contact: Stephen Sautner|
Wildlife Conservation Society