Species Profile

Wood Bison

Scientific Name: Bison bison athabascae
Taxonomy Group: Mammals
COSEWIC Range: Yukon, Northwest Territories, British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: November 2013
COSEWIC Status: Special Concern
COSEWIC Status Criteria:
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: This bison only occurs in the wild in Canada. There are currently 5,136 to 7,172 mature individuals in nine isolated wild subpopulations. The population has increased since 1987, mostly due to the establishment of new wild subpopulations within the original range. About 60% of the overall population is included in Wood Buffalo National Park and surrounding areas, and is affected by two cattle diseases, bovine brucellosis and tuberculosis. Two wild subpopulations have recently experienced significant mortality events demonstrating the inherent vulnerability of small isolated populations. The Mackenzie herd decreased by 53% due to an outbreak of anthrax and the Hay-Zama decreased by 20% due to starvation during a severe winter. Further increases to the population size or the addition of new wild subpopulations is not likely, as recovery is constrained by fragmented or unsuitable habitat, road mortality, disease management associated with livestock and commercial bison operations, and disease outbreaks.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Endangered in April 1978. Status re-examined and designated Threatened in April 1988 and May 2000. Status re-examined and designated Special Concern in November 2013.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Threatened
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2003-06-05

Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.

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Quick Links: | Photo | Description | Distribution and Population | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | Recovery Initiatives | Recovery Team | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Wood Bison

Wood Bison Photo 1

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Description

The Wood Bison is the largest Canadian terrestrial mammal. It is dark brown, with a massive head, a high hump on its large shoulders, and long shaggy hair on its shoulders and front legs. The short legs end in rounded hooves. The short and black horns curve inward on the males, but are straight on the females. There are two moults every year, one in the spring and one in the fall. The males are larger than the females; an adult male measures 3.04 to 3.8 m in length and 1.67 to 1.82 m in height (at the shoulders), and weighs between 350 and 1000 kg. Wood Bison are generally taller and less stocky than Plains Bison. Both Wood and Plains Bison are considered by some to be subspecies of the American Bison, but their actual systematic status is unclear and controversial.

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Distribution and Population

The Wood Bison, considered a northern subspecies of the American Bison, is a Canadian endemic (occurs only in Canada). In the past, it was found in northeastern British Columbia, northern Alberta, northwestern Saskatchewan, Yukon, and southwestern Northwest Territories. Today, there are herds of wood bison in Alberta, Manitoba, British Columbia, Yukon, and southwestern Northwest Territories. A recovery program established in 1957 has aided the population of Wood Bison to increase from 200 in 1957, to over 3,000 free-roaming bison in 1999. Historical estimates suggest that there once were over 168,000 Wood Bison in Canada. The latest population estimates count 3,536 bison, with 2,828 in the wild and 708 in captivity, free of brucellosis and tuberculosis. There are six populations in the wild and four captive breeding herds. Two wild herds exceed the minimum viable population of 400 individuals. In 2000, the species was re-examined using new criteria and reaffirmed as threatened.

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Habitat

Wood Bison are found in the open boreal and aspen forests where there are large wet meadows and slight depressions caused by ancient lakes. The population in the Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary (NWT) uses wet meadows and willow savannas in summer and winter and forests in the fall.

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Biology

The Wood Bison is a long-lived species, living up to 40 years. Both males and females reach sexual maturity at 2-4 years of age, but males usually mate at about 6 years of age or older - when they can compete with larger bulls for females. The rut is in August and early September. After a gestation period of 270 to 300 days, cows give birth to a single red calf in May; twins are rare. Females usually give birth twice in three years. Wood Bison feed mainly on sedges and grasses, but also on the leaves and bark of trees and shrubs (primarily willow) and lichens. The wolf is the bison's main predator (other than humans), but newborn calves can be taken by bears.

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Threats

Disease (anthrax, brucellosis, and tuberculosis), cross-breeding with Plains Bison, and habitat loss through human development, agriculture, and forestry and petroleum resource development are the main threats faced by Wood Bison. Anthrax is a fatal disease for herbivores, that is contracted through bacteria found where the ground has been contaminated by infected carcasses. Anthrax was a major cause of death for the Wood Bison before 1978 and could easily recur, especially in particularly wet years. The Wood Bison in Wood Buffalo National Park were infected with bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis (and began hybridizing) when Plains Bison were moved to the park from 1925-1928. The Plains Bison had contracted the two diseases from domestic cattle with which they had been held, and during cross-breeding experiments. Wood Bison can drown during spring floods or when they venture onto thin ice; in 1961 and 1974 several hundred bison drowned in a flood. These events likely do not affect bison populations over the long term. However, the periodic floods supplied water to elevated ponds and wet meadows where the bison feed. With the construction of the W.A.C. Bennett Dam, flooding has been largely controlled and the meadows and ponds have dried. As a result, the vegetation has converted from sedges, which provided important winter forage, to grasses and shrubs, which are thought to be less suitable as food. The conversion of lands for agriculture or other development has limited the habitat of the Wood Bison. Biting insects are a problem for the herds in captivity, since their movements are restricted by fences and they thus cannot escape the insects; this has resulted in reproduction problems and mortality. Also, so-called pure blood Wood Bison are kept apart from Plains Bison and bison hybrids to protect the genetic integrity of the subspecies. This limits the habitat which can be used to reintroduce the Wood Bison, since part of the habitat is occupied by other bison.

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Protection

Federal Protection

More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

A law to protect the Wood Bison from hunting was first introduced in 1877. In the Northwest Territories, the Yukon, British Columbia, and Alberta, the species is protected against such activities as capture, harassment, trade, and killing. The species is fully protected in the Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary in the Northwest Territories, and only a limited number of tags for hunting bison are available annually. National parks, such as Wood Buffalo National Park, ensure some protection for the bison. Regulations and cooperative agreements with native peoples protect the Wood Bison against hunting when it is reintroduced into an area.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.

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Recovery Initiatives

Status of Recovery Planning

Recovery Strategies :

Name Recovery Strategy for the Wood Bison (Bison bison athabascae) in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry

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Recovery Team

Bison Recovery Team

  • Cormack Gates - Chair/Contact - University or college
    Phone: 403-220-6605  Fax: 403-284-4399  Send Email

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Recovery Progress and Activities

Summary of Progress to Date Historically Wood Bison ranged throughout the boreal forest of northern Alberta, northeastern British Columbia, northwestern Saskatchewan, the southwestern Northwest Territories, and much of Yukon and Alaska. In the early 1800s, Wood Bison numbers were estimated at 168,000 animals, but by the late 1800s only a few hundred animals remained. In 1978, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) assessed Wood Bison as Endangered. As a result of an active recovery program, Wood Bison were reassessed as Threatened by COSEWIC in 2000. Since then numbers have continued to increase. As of 2006, there were an estimated 4188 Wood Bison in seven free-ranging, disease-free herds, 6216 animals in four diseased, free-ranging herds, and 1029 animals in captive conservation (public and private) and research herds. Summary of Research/Monitoring Activities The Wood Bison Reproduction Research Group was established in 2006 to further collaboration among the University of Saskatchewan, University of Calgary, Calgary Zoo, Government of the Northwest Territories, and the Parks Canada Agency. The objective of the research program is to characterize and understand the reproductive cycle in bison and to further develop reproductive technologies for the conservation of valuable genetic material from diseased wood bison populations. Three male and 15 female wood bison are being raised in captivity at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, as part of these studies. Other studies are underway to address the management of genetic diversity for captive and free-ranging bison herds. Summary of Recovery Activities The Government of the Northwest Territories has initiated an enhanced disease surveillance program for the Mackenzie and Nahanni herds to confirm the disease-free status established through previous ongoing testing efforts. In March 2006, the Hook Lake Wood Bison Recovery Project was terminated and the herd was destroyed after Tuberculosis was detected in one of the founder animals and several captive born bison. In various locations, captive herds are being maintained to provide stock for reintroductions, free-ranging populations are being protected, and the growth of small, disease-free, populations is being promoted. In April 2006, 30 surplus wood bison calves were transferred from Elk Island National Park to Lenski Stolby Nature Park near Yakutsk, Sahka Republic (Yakutia), Russia. This project was supported by the Recovery Team on the basis of contributing to the global security of wood bison. It was considered an additional opportunity to secure survival of the subspecies within a geographically separate population. URLs Parks Canada: Elk Island National Park of Canada:www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ab/elkisland/natcul/natcul1biii_E.asp Hinterland Who’s Who: North American Bison:www.hww.ca/hww2.asp?cid=8&id=97 Yukon Wood Bison:http://www.yfwmb.yk.ca/comanagement/mgmtplans/bisonplan/yukon.html Wildlife at Risk in BC: Wood Bison:http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/wld/documents/wbison.pdf

Hinterland Who's Who: North American Bison: http://www.hww.ca/hww2.asp?pid=1&cid=8&id=97

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Documents

PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

24 record(s) found.

Conservation Agreements

  • Canada Alberta conservation agreement for the Wabasca and Ronald Lake Bison Herds: In support of Wood Bison recovery in Alberta (2021-06-25)

    Conserving wildlife is integral to Canada’s culture and natural environment and supports our health and economy. The Government of Canada is committed to working with the provinces, territories, Indigenous peoples and stakeholders to manage and support the recovery of species at risk, including wood bison. Section 11 of the Species at Risk Act allows Canada to enter into conservation agreements to benefit species at risk. The Government of Canada and the Government of Alberta have reached a draft Conservation Agreement, under s.11 of the Species at Risk Act for the Wabasca and Ronald Lake Bison Herds, in support of wood bison recovery in Alberta. The overarching goals of this Agreement are to articulate initiatives and actions to address threats to the Wabasca and Ronald Lake Wood Bison herds and, to contribute to addressing recovery of Wood Bison as a species.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Plains Bison Bison bison bison and the Wood Bison Bison bison athabascae in Canada (2014-10-15)

    The American bison is a member of the wild cattle family and is the largest land mammal in North America. The two recognized subspecies--Plains Bison (Bison bison bison) and Wood Bison (B. b. athabascae)--have distinct morphology, body shape, size, and pelage patterns. Phylogenetic divisions between them remain despite a massive translocation of Plains Bison into the remnant Wood Bison population during the 1920s, which has had a substantial impact on their genetic and distributional integrity. Bison once served as both an ecological and cultural keystone species, having a disproportionate influence on ecological processes and biodiversity in socio-ecological systems it occupied. This animal has been important to the material and spiritual cultures of many Aboriginal peoples. Since the 1970s, Bison have also increased in economic and commercial importance. This report provides information necessary to assess the wild component of the species, in keeping with COSEWIC guidelines.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Wood Bison (2015-01-13)

    This bison only occurs in the wild in Canada. There are currently 5,136 to 7,172 mature individuals in nine isolated wild subpopulations. The population has increased since 1987, mostly due to the establishment of new wild subpopulations within the original range. About 60% of the overall population is included in Wood Buffalo National Park and surrounding areas, and is affected by two cattle diseases, bovine brucellosis and tuberculosis. Two wild subpopulations have recently experienced significant mortality events demonstrating the inherent vulnerability of small isolated populations. The Mackenzie herd decreased by 53% due to an outbreak of anthrax and the Hay-Zama decreased by 20% due to starvation during a severe winter. Further increases to the population size or the addition of new wild subpopulations is not likely, as recovery is constrained by fragmented or unsuitable habitat, road mortality, disease management associated with livestock and commercial bison operations, and disease outbreaks.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for the Wood Bison (Bison bison athabascae) in Canada (2018-08-28)

    The Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for the Parks Canada Agency is the competent minister under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) for the Wood Bison and has prepared this recovery strategy, as per section 37 of SARA. To the extent possible, it has been prepared in cooperation with the Government of Alberta, the Government of British Columbia, the Government of Manitoba, the Government of the Northwest Territories, the Tlicho Government, the Wek'èezhìi Renewable Resource Board, the Government of Yukon, and the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board, and any others as per section 39(1) of SARA.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2013-2014 (2014-10-15)

    Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to "assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species". COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings in this reporting year (October, 2013 to September, 2014) from November 24 to November 29, 2013 and from April 27 to May 2, 2014. During the current reporting period, COSEWIC assessed the status or reviewed the classification of 56 wildlife species. The wildlife species assessment results for the 2012-2013 reporting period include the following: Extinct: 0 Extirpated: 0 Endangered: 23 Threatened: 12 Special Concern: 20 Data Deficient: 0 Not at Risk: 1 Total: 56 Of the 56 wildlife species examined, COSEWIC reviewed the classification of 40 that had been previously assessed. The review of classification for 25 of those wildlife species resulted in a confirmation of the same status as the previous assessment.

Permits and Related Agreements

  • Explanation for issuing permit(#06-01-17529), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2006-03-01)

    Thirty wood bison calves from the National Wood Bison Conservation Herd at Elk Island National Park (EINP) will be translocated to the Republic of Sakha, Russian Federation. These bison will be released to the wild after a period of acclimatization and some will remain as a display herd for public education. The bison will be handled in a specially designed handling facility at EINP. They will be weighed, ear tagged, disease tested and treated with antibiotics to ensure that they are disease free. The bison, accompanied by Parks Canada specialists and a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) veterinarian, will be transported by air cargo to Yakust, in the Sakha Republic and by truck to the holding site.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#06-01-17530), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2006-03-01)

    Twenty-five wood bison calves from the National Wood Bison Conservation Herd at Elk Island National Park (EINP) will be translocated to the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatoon for research on assisted reproductive technologies . The bison will be handled in a specially designed handling facility at EINP. They will be weighed, ear tagged, disease tested and treated with antibiotics to ensure that they are disease free. The bison will be transported by truck to a specialized bison research facility at the University of Saskatoon.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#10-01-56818), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2010-06-01)

    Thirty wood bison calves from the National Wood Bison Conservation Herd at Elk Island National Park (EINP) will be translocated to the Republic of Sakha, Russian Federation. These bison will be released to the wild after a period of acclimatization and some will remain as a display herd for public education. The bison will be handled in a specially designed handling facility at EINP. They will be weighed, ear tagged, disease tested and treated with antibiotics to ensure that they are disease free. The bison, accompanied by Parks Canada specialists and a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) veterinarian, will be transported by air cargo to Yakusk, in the Sakha Republic and by truck to the holding site.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#7), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2006-04-03)

    Transfer (possession) of Wood Bison at the Edmonton International Airport. This is an international cooperative conservation and recovery project between the Government of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) and Environment Canada, whereby 30 wood bison from the Canadian Wood Bison Recovery Program will be transfered to the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) to assist in the renewal of a large herbivore population that will enhance natural capital and biodiversity in the region. A Memorandum of Understanding and a Transfer Protocol Agreement were cooperatively developed and recently signed by the Government of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), Environment Canada, and the Parks Canada Agency leading to a scheduled transfer to take place on April 4, 2006, when 30 wood bison (15 males, 15 females) from Elk Island National Park will be transported to the Edmonton International Airport for transfer to Lenskie Stolby Nature Park, 130 km south of Yakutsk in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia).
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#EINP 2008-01), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2008-01-01)

    Elk Island National Park is a fenced environment preventing both the dispersal and predation of large mammals. Large mammal populations, including wood bison, must be actively managed within defined carrying capacity limits in order to maintain population health and park ecological integrity. Herd and range carrying capacity monitoring indicates that approximately 100 wood bison should be removed from the population in 2008.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#EINP-2013-001), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2013-02-05)

    Large grazing herbivores such as the northern bison that once roamed the landscape are now absent from the Sakha Republic. Sakha's goal is to restore the closest living ancestor to these large herbivores. Up to 30 wood bison from Elk Island National Park will be donated for this purpose. Some wood bison will be released to the wild, while some will remain as a display herd for public education in Lenskie Stolby Nature Park located in Sakha. A maximum of 20 female and 10 male wood bison calves will be handled in Elk Island National Park's wood bison facility. Handling involves obtaining weights, ear tagging, and disease testing every bison to ensure that they are disease free. In 2006 and 2011, successful wood bison transfers to the Republic of Sakha were conducted using the same protocol.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#EINP-2018-001), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2018-02-20)

    The removal of surplus wood bison from Elk Island National Park is necessary to mitigate possible adverse impacts of a hyperabundant species on the ecological integrity and biodiversity of the park, and on individuals within the bison herds. Individual wood bison will be sorted from the greater population at the handling facility at Elk Island National Park. They will be held at the facility until all disease testing and quarantine requirements are satisfied, and will then be transported to their location in specialist transport trailers. A maximum of 30 individuals will be transported to the Sakha Republic, Russia, for augmentation of their conservation herd. A maximum of 50 individuals will be transported to Saulteaux First Nations lands, towards creation of a community herd. Finally, a maximum of 10 individuals will be transferred to the Western College of Veterinary Medicine's Native Hoofstock Centre, to contribute to their conservation research program.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#WB-2008-1719), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2008-07-20)

    An aerial reconnaissance will be carried out using a fixed wing to locate large mixed groups of bison and this will be followed up with a ground-based count. The ground-based count will be facilitated by rotary wing aircraft to drop off the research team and to gently herd the bison towards them for counting. The purpose of the ground-based count is to classify a representative sample of WBNP bison herds by their age and gender in order to determine bull: cow ratios, cow: calf ratios, and recruitment for the park wood bison population.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#WB-2011-8733), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2011-06-20)

    Reconnaissance flights will be carried out by fixed wing in late June or early July, to locate large, mixed groups of bison. During the segregation count, a helicopter will relocate the large mixed herds and then set down an observer, biologist and a recorder at a site deemed likely for the targeted herd to travel. The parks staff will conceal themselves behind appropriate cover (shrubs). The helicopter will then fly back to the group of bison and move them towards the staff. The object is to have the bison move, but avoid running past the concealed staff, so that there is time to identify them by age and sex. Bison are sexed according to horn and body morphology and aged according to body size, colouration and horn morphology. Bison are recorded as B for bull, C for cow, A for calf and Y for yearling. The bull classification is further divided into three age categories, B1, B2 and B3, depending on horn morphology. This classification scheme is also employed by the GNWT for their bison surveys, which means GNWT and WBNP's data should be comparable. A GPS tracklog of the aircraft's movements will be kept to document search effort and GPS locations will be taken for all bison groups spotted. In addition, a tally will be kept of the age/sex makeup of each group. The observations are recorded manually on paper and also on an audio tape in order to confirm accuracy. When possible a video tape will also be recorded.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#WB-2015-18571), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2015-06-15)

    Reconnaissance flights will be carried out by fixed wing in late June or early July, to locate large, mixed groups of bison. During the segregation count, a helicopter will relocate the large mixed herds and then set down an observer, biologist and a recorder at a site deemed likely for the targeted herd to travel. The parks staff will conceal themselves behind appropriate cover (shrubs). The helicopter will then fly back to the group of bison and move them towards the staff. The object is to have the bison move, but avoid running past the concealed staff, so that there is time to identify them by age and sex. Bison are sexed according to horn and body morphology and aged according to body size, colouration and horn morphology. Bison are recorded as B for bull, C for cow, A for calf and Y for yearling. The bull classification is further divided into three age categories, B1, B2 and B3, depending on horn morphology. This classification scheme is also employed by the GNWT for their bison surveys, which means GNWT and WBNP's data should be comparable. A GPS tracklog of the aircraft's movements will be kept to document search effort and GPS locations will be taken for all bison groups spotted. In addition, a tally will be kept of the age/sex makeup of each group. The observations are recorded manually on paper and also on an audio tape in order to confirm accuracy. When possible a video tape will also be recorded.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#WB-2018-27578), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2018-03-24)

    There is concern that the development of a mine 30km from the southern boundary of the park will push the Ronald Lake bison herd, which is disease-free and genetically pure, into the park, thereby increasing the risk of disease transmission and breeding with delta bison. This project will inform researchers on seasonal movements of Delta subpopulation of bison within Wood Buffalo National Park, in particular, their range south east of Lake Claire to the park boundary and beyond. In tandem with a simultaneous collaring study on the Ronald Lake bison herd, overlap and/or proximity of herd ranges will be elucidated. This project was recommended by the Ronald Lake Bison Herd Technical Team (interagency group examining potential impacts and mitigations of the Teck Frontier mine site). 10 to 20 adult cow bison will be captured by net-gunning from a helicopter and fitted with satellite collars. Blood and hair with roots attached will also be taken.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#WB-2020-36397), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2020-08-15)

    The viability of bison populations can be affected by factors such as population size, level of inbreeding, genetic diversity, differential reproductive success and gene flow among populations. Genetic diversity is also crucial for populations to adapt to changing environments. The United States Department of the Interior recently completed a population viability analysis of bison herds that they manage, and found that gene flow among populations is critical for the long-term success of their herds. Wood Bison within Wood Buffalo National Park are considered to represent five subpopulations. However, little is known about the genetic relationships among this subpopulations, or how many genetic clusters of bison occur in the park. Since population size has a large impact on population viability, the number of genetic subpopulations within Wood Buffalo National Park (and therefore, size of these genetic groupings) will have an impact on the viability of these subpopulations. In order to examine the genetic relationships and viability of the Wood Buffalo National Park bison, we need to collect tissue samples from 20 individuals from each of the five subpopulations within the park. DNA can then be isolated from these tissue samples, and genetic analysis performed at the University of California, Davis. Samples will be collected with biopsy darts, both opportunistically from roadways when bison are spotted, or actively via helicopter surveys.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#WB-2020-37479), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2021-01-04)

    Wood Bison movement, home range size, and habitat use in the southern region of Wood Buffalo National Park will be tracked by fitting adult and sub-adult cow and bull bison with GPS and VHF tracking collars. It will focus on the Garden River and Delta subpopulations due to potential interaction resulting in disease transmission to herds outside of the park. Cow bison will be captured by net gunning from a helicopter by a qualified wildlife capture crew. Bull bison will be captured by darting from a helicopter by a Parks Canada veterinarian, along with a wildlife capture crew. Fecal, blood, and hair samples will be taken from each bison.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#WB08-1006), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2009-02-16)

    The BBC is proposing to film Bison/wolf interactions in Wood Buffalo National Park for a new series, 'Our Frozen Planet'. The project is scheduled to begin in late February 2009 and end in Late March 2009. The filming will take place when snow is still on the ground, as it would feature as a sequence in the film about surviving winter. The project will involve a ground filming crew and air filming crew.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#WBNP-2019-31478), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2019-03-29)

    This permit continues work started in 2018 under permit WBNP-2018-27578. There is concern that the development of a mine 30km from the southern boundary of the park will push the Ronald Lake bison herd, which is disease-free and genetically pure, into the park, thereby increasing the risk of disease transmission and breeding with delta bison. This project was recommended by the Ronald Lake Bison Herd Technical Team (interagency group examining potential impacts and mitigations of the Teck Frontier mine site). 10 to 20 adult cow bison will be captured by net-gunning from a helicopter and fitted with satellite collars. Blood and hair with roots attached will also be taken.

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act : Terrestrial Species - January 2015 (2015-01-13)

    The Government of Canada is committed to preventing the disappearance of wildlife species at risk from our lands. As part of its strategy for realizing that commitment, on June 5, 2003, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species provided for under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Extirpated, Endangered and Threatened species on Schedule 1 benefit from the protection of prohibitions and recovery planning requirements under SARA. Special Concern species benefit from its management planning requirements. Schedule 1 has grown from the original 233 to 521 wildlife species at risk. Please submit your comments byApril 15, 2015, for terrestrial species undergoing normal consultationsand byOctober 15, 2015, for terrestrial species undergoing extended consultations.For a description of the consultation paths these species will undergo, please see:Species at Risk Public Registry website

Related Information

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA) Listing Plan 2016 to 2018 (2017-09-29)

    The status of wildlife species is assessed by an independent panel of expert Canadian scientists, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). 149 terrestrial species were assessed as at-risk by COSEWIC between 2009 and 2016 and are eligible for listing under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) to be considered by the Governor-in-Council (GIC) on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment: 86 species would be new additions, 54 currently listed species would be reclassified and 9 species would be updated to reflect changes in their recognized designatable units. A three-year listing plan has been developed to address all 149 terrestrial species and listing decisions for most species are anticipated by the end of 2018. Making amendments to Schedule 1 of SARA is a two-step process. The first step is for the GIC to propose an amendment through an order in council published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, for a 30-day public comment period. The second step is for the GIC to make a final decision on whether or not to make amendments to Schedule 1 of SARA, taking into consideration comments received during the 30-day public comment period. The amendments are made through an order in council published in the Canada Gazette, Part II. Both orders are accompanied by a Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement (RIAS) which presents the implications of listing the species or changing their status. Publishing this plan on the Species at Risk Public Registry is intended to provide transparency about the Government of Canada’s plan to make listing decisions under the Species at Risk Act. NOTE: The information presented below is intended to provide openness and transparency with respect to when terrestrial species might be considered for listing under Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act. It is intended to assist anyone who may wish to provide comments on such listing considerations. Given any number of factors can affect the timing of a listing decision; the Plan is subject to change. Accordingly, the Plan will be periodically updated.
  • Imminent Threat Assessment for Wood Bison (Bison bison athabascae) (2021-06-08)

    On January 29, 2020, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change announced that he had determined that Wood Bison are facing imminent threats to their recovery. The full imminent threat assessment that supported the Minister’s determination is now available. Edits to Box 1 and Box 2 to better describe the importance of the Ronald Lake and Wabasca herds to Indigenous peoples, were made following the publishing (see links below).

Recovery Document Posting Plans

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada's Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan (2016-07-06)

    Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan identifies the species for which recovery documents will be posted each fiscal year starting in 2014-2015. Posting this three year plan on the Species at Risk Public Registry is intended to provide transparency to partners, stakeholders, and the public about Environment and Climate Change Canada’s plan to develop and post these proposed recovery strategies and management plans. However, both the number of documents and the particular species that are posted in a given year may change slightly due to a variety of circumstances. Last update July 29, 2021
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