Wood Bison

The reintroduction of wood bison into Alaska is considered one of the world’s best conservation success stories.
Wood Bison Scientific Classification
Scientific name
Bison bison athabascae
Wood Bison Physical Characteristics
18-22 years
Top speed
34 mph
544kg-907kg (1,200lb-2000lb
Wood Bison Distribition

The Wood Bison is the Largest living, native terrestrial North American Mammal.

In March 2011, the initial wood bison strolled totally free on American dirt once again for the very first time in over 100 years. These animals that are the biggest North American creature, consider concerning 350 extra pounds greater than the levels bison. Wood bison reside in lawn and sedge fields throughout British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, the Yukon, and Northwest Territories. A herd has actually been restored on Alaska’s Inoko Flats along the reduced Yukon River. These animals are substantially impacted by winter and considerable snowfalls, that makes grazing exceptionally tough.

5 Extraordinary Wood Bison Realities!

  • Wood bison are the biggest indigenous earthbound land creature in The United States and Canada.
  • Wood bison might all originate from 11 animals that made it through in Canada.
  • A wood bison calf bone is red when it is birthed.
  • Wood bison have a distinct higher bulge at the base of their necks.
  • Wood bison type herds by sex.

Wood Bison Scientific Name

The scientific name of the wood bison is Bison bison athabascae That is various than the levels bison that is called the Bison bison bison There is an outstanding opportunity that both subspecies are come down from the Bison priscus, called the steppe bison. Additionally, around 1920 when the Canadian federal government relocated big herds of timbers and levels bison to Wood Bison National Forest, both subspecies might have interbred drastically.

Buffalo and bison are just distantly relevant, although the terms are typically made use of mutually. Buffalo reside in Asia and Africa while bison reside in The United States and Canada and Europe. Buffalo does not have bulges.

Wood Bison Appearance

The wood bison is the bigger of both bison species that reside in The United States and Canada. This species stands concerning 6- feet high and has to do with 10- feet long. Males consider concerning 2,000 extra pounds when fully grown while females consider concerning 1,200 extra pounds.

Wood bison have an unshaven layer that obtains much longer in the winter months. They additionally have much longer hair on their chins, looking like a beard. These adjustments aid the wood bison remain warmer in the winter months.

They are much broader in the front quarter than in the back quarter. This is among the adjustments that aid the animal utilize its front legs to get rid of snow simpler to reach the lawn under it. They have a huge bulge beginning at the base of their necks and sloping downward with the front quarter. This adjustment aids them relocate their substantial head with the snow in the winter to forage. The head has big horns that expand straight upwards.

Fully grown wood bison have dark- brownish- to- black hair along their legs and reduced body. The hair is a lighter shade over the remainder of their bodies, consisting of the bulge. Calf bones are birthed with red hair that transforms darker as they age. Red hair is among the adjustments that aid calf bones assimilate far better to their atmosphere prior to they are old sufficient to safeguard themselves.

These bison has a brief tail that is typically concerning 3- feet long. The tail finishes in hairs of dark hair.

Two wild wood bison grazing in Alaska national park.
2 wild wood bison grazing in Alaska national forest.Picture Spirit/Shutterstock.com

What is the Distinction In Between a Wood Bison and a Plains Bison?

There are several distinctions in between a wood bison and a levels bison. The levels bison is a smaller sized animal. It has to do with 250 extra pounds lighter. While male wood bison stand nearly 7- feet high at their withers, male ordinary bison stand concerning a foot much shorter. In addition, wood bison expand to be around 10 feet long while levels bison has to do with a foot much shorter. Not just is the levels bison smaller sized than the wood bison, however it additionally has a stockier appearance.

An additional distinction in between a wood bison and a levels bison is the head. The levels bison has a rounder head with blurry hair on it. Comparative, the timbers bison has an extra sharp head with lengthy, straight hair curtaining down its temple.

Yet, an additional distinction in between both subspecies is that the timbers bison’s bulge is much more sharp than the level’s bison. Additionally, when you check out both species from the front, you will certainly see lengthy hairs of hair on the level’s front legs that are missing out on or a lot less famous on the wood bison.

When taken a look at from the side, the cape on the level’s bison appears like an enhancement to its body, comparable to a kid putting on a Superman cape. At the same time, on the timbers bison, the cape appears like component of the all-natural hair procedure. The timbers bison is additionally a darker shade than the levels bison.

Wood Bison Habits

Females and their calf bones reside in teams of as much as 60 animals throughout the year. Bulls reside in smaller sized herds. Bison are possibility eaters that will certainly cover a huge region looking for food. When the food is gone from one location, they stroll to an additional one to discover sufficient food. Herd dimension typically increases or down relying on the accessibility of food.

Wood Bison Environment

A lot of these bison reside in restricted herds. There is one restricted herd in Alaska, one in Sakha Republic, Russia, et cetera remain in Canada. The Canadian federal government thinks about the herds staying in its nation to be wild animals. The federal government, nevertheless, has actually positioned limitations on where these animals can live, so 97.4% of their initial environment is not readily available to them.

One herd is near Aishihik Lake, Canada. Preservation initiatives in this area of the Yukon are underway to return the environment to its initial arboreal woodland state.

An additional herd is along the Alaska Freeway Passage near the Aline Lake location eastern of Liard Hotsprings in north British Columbia. This herd often tends to relocate along the freeway while grazing on the lawn along the freeways’ sides.

An additional herd area is near Nahanni Butte in Southwestern Northwest Area, Canada. This is an exceptionally separated location, and this herd has even more water accessibility than much of the various other herds. As a result, scientists do not think that it relocates as typically or as for much of the various other herds.

A last herd was developed in Canada along the Etthithun River in northeastern British Columbia. This herd has around 5,000 square acres that it crosses routinely.

Wood Bison Diet

These bison are herbivores that eat on a range of plant throughout the year. In the winter months, concerning 97% of their diet is sedges. In the springtime and summer season, they eat sedges and willows. The bison consist of lichens in their fall diet.

On the whole, these bison favor to reside in wet sedge fields throughout the winter season due to the fact that it is simpler to protect food there. They will certainly utilize their big heads and neck muscle mass to relocate snow to obtain yummy points to eat. Throughout the summer season, hill bison typically transfer to willow savannas, where the plants offer a greater quantity of unrefined healthy protein. In the autumn, they typically reside in even more woody locations where lichen is routinely readily available.

Specifically throughout exceptionally rough winter seasons, it is not uncommon for as much as 20% of hill bison to deprive to fatality.

Wood Bison Predators and Risks

Guy is the biggest hazard dealt with by these bison. Canada still has regulations in position permitting animals that are thought about problems to be eliminated.

In addition, the distance of the bison to residential livestock has actually enabled some livestock illness to be entered herds. Specifically, anthrax was accountable for a number of hill bison fatalities in Wood Bison National Forest and various other North Canada places. In around 1963, the federal government eliminated nearly 600 healthy and balanced bison to stop the spread of the illness even more, and you can still see implications of that act in today herd.

Wood Bison Recreation and Life Process

A lot of breeding in these bison takes place in between July and September. The female delivers concerning 9 months later on. Calf bones can stroll from concerning the moment that they are birthed.

While females end up being sexually fully grown at concerning one year, they typically wait up until after 18 months to reproduce. After that, they bring to life one calf bone every 1- to- 3 years. Bulls grow a little slower and typically do not get to sex-related maturation up until they have to do with 24 months old. They typically do not have a possibility to reproduce up until they have to do with 8 years of ages due to the fact that they have to wait on more powerful and older bison to pass away or end up being wounded.

These bison are polygamous, with each bull typically fertilizing countless cows. Commonly throughout the reproducing period, a fully grown bull will certainly safeguard young cows up until they prepare to reproduce. After that, he will certainly fertilize them.

Wood Bison Populace

There have to do with 4,400 of these bison left on the planet. Most of them reside in herds in Canada.


  1. Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Available here: https://www.alaskawildlife.org/wood-bison-restoration/
  2. Discover, Available here: https://www.discovermagazine.com/planet-earth/wood-bison-roam-the-us-for-first-time-in-a-century
  3. Alaska Public Media, Available here: https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/10/21/wood-bison-reintroduced-in-southwest-alaska-see-another-year-of-loss-but-with-a-silver-lining/
  4. Canadian Science Publishing, Available here: https://cdnsciencepub.com/doi/abs/10.1139/z91-376
  5. Animal Spot, Available here: https://www.animalspot.net/wood-bison.html
  6. Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Available here: https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=woodbison.main
  7. Anchorage Daily News, Available here: https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/wildlife/2016/06/04/meet-the-nations-only-wild-wood-bison-herd-that-now-roams-western-alaska/#:~:text=The%20world’s%20current%20wood%20bison,were%20thought%20to%20be%20extinct.
  8. Plains Bison and the Wood Bison in Canada, Available here: https://www.sararegistry.gc.ca/virtual_sara/files/cosewic/sr_Plains%20Bison%20and%20Wood%20Bison_2013_e.pdf
  9. Northern Public Affairs, Available here: https://www.northernpublicaffairs.ca/index/at-home-on-the-frozen-range-reintroduced-aishihik-bison-herd-thrives-in-yukon/

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