Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bringing bison back to North American landscapes

Date:
March 3, 2010
Source:
University of Calgary
Summary:
The next 10 to 20 years could be extremely significant for restoring wild populations of American bison to their original roaming grounds. But for this to happen, more land must be made available for herds to roam free, government policies must be updated and the public must change its attitude towards bison, a new report says.

Bison herd at Grand Teton.
Credit: Photo by Steve Zack, Wildlife Conservation Society

The next 10 to 20 years could be extremely significant for restoring wild populations of American bison to their original roaming grounds. But for this to happen, more land must be made available for herds to roam free, government policies must be updated and the public must change its attitude towards bison, a new report says.

Related Articles


A new publication by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), American Bison: Status Survey and Conservation Guidelines 2010, reports on the current status of American bison, in the wild and in conservation herds, and makes recommendations on how to ensure that the species is conserved for the future.

"Although the effort to restore bison to the plains of North America is considered to be one of the most ambitious and complex undertakings in species conservation efforts in North America, it will only succeed if legislation is introduced at a local and national level, with significant funding and a shift in attitude towards the animal," says Dr Simon Stuart, Chair of IUCN's Species Survival Commission.

Five hundred years ago, tens of millions of American bison roamed free on the plains of North America, from Alaska to northern Mexico. Now the American bison -- which includes both plains and wood bison -- is listed as Near Threatened on IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species™. As of 2008, there were approximately 400,000 bison in commercial herds in North America, some 93 percent of the continental population. But little progress has been made in recent decades to increase the number of animals in conservation herds, which are managed carefully for their genetic diversity and ecological roles. In 2008, there were 61 plains bison conservation herds in North America containing about 20,500 animals, and 11 conservation herds of wood bison, containing nearly 11,000 animals.

"While substantial progress in saving bison from extinction was made in the 20th century, much work remains to restore conservation herds throughout their vast geographical range," says University of Calgary Environmental Design Professor and co-editor of the study, Dr Cormack Gates, who is also co-Chair of the IUCN Bison Specialist Group. "The key is recognition that the bison is a wildlife species and to be conserved as wildlife, it needs land and supportive government policies."

The survival of bison populations is affected by many factors, including limited habitat and severe winters. Yet the greatest challenge is to overcome the common perception that the bison, which has had a profound influence on the human history of North America, socially, culturally and ecologically, no longer belongs on the landscape.

"The decimation of the American bison in the late 1800s inspired the first recovery of bison and an entire conservation movement that protected wildlife and wild places across North America," says Keith Aune, Senior Conservation Scientist, Wildlife Conservation Society. "The IUCN Status Survey and Conservation Guidelines provide a new framework for inspiring a second recovery of bison and restoring functional grassland ecosystems."

Bison have the best chance of full recovery as wildlife by being allowed to roam freely across hundreds of thousands or even millions of hectares. Making this possible poses one of the biggest challenges for restoring bison herds as both public and private landowners will need to give their support.

"The bison is the largest land mammal in North America, and yet it is perhaps the most neglected icon," says Steve Forrest, WWF Northern Great Plains Manager for Conservation Science. "These guidelines provide a roadmap for bringing the bison back to its rightful place as a keystone of the great plains."

American Bison: Status Survey and Conservation Guidelines 2010 was edited by Cormack Gates, Curtis Freese, Peter Gogan and Mandy Kotzman, and is the product of more than three years of cooperative effort by numerous contributors. Production of the report was made possible with funding from several non-governmental organizations and government agencies including the World Wildlife Fund, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the University of Calgary Faculty of Environmental Design, the American Bison Society, the US Geological Survey and the US National Parks Service.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Calgary. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Calgary. "Bringing bison back to North American landscapes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 March 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100302093330.htm>.
University of Calgary. (2010, March 3). Bringing bison back to North American landscapes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100302093330.htm
University of Calgary. "Bringing bison back to North American landscapes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100302093330.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

AFP (Nov. 23, 2014) The arable district of Kenema in Sierra Leone -- at the centre of the Ebola outbreak in May -- has been under quarantine for three months as the cocoa harvest comes in. Duration: 01:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NY Gov. on Flood Prep: 'prepared for the Worst'

NY Gov. on Flood Prep: 'prepared for the Worst'

AP (Nov. 23, 2014) First came the big storm. Now comes the big melt for residents of flood-prone areas around Buffalo. New York's governor says officials are preparing for the worst as the temperature is expected to rise and potentially melt several feet of snow. (Nov. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Newsy (Nov. 22, 2014) For the first time Monterey Bay Aquarium recorded a video of the elusive, creepy and rarely seen anglerfish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Buffalo Residents Digging Out, Helping out

Raw: Buffalo Residents Digging Out, Helping out

AP (Nov. 22, 2014) Hundreds of volunteers joined a 'shovel brigade' in Buffalo, New York on Saturday, as the city was living up to its nickname, "The City of Good Neighbors." Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins