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Species at Risk

Wood Bison

Bison bison athabascae

Why protect the Wood Bison?

Two Wood Bison in Wood Buffalo national Park of Canada.
Wood Bison have keen hearing and a good sense of smell, and are able to quickly detect changes in their environment.
© Parks Canada / WBNP Photo Gallery

A National Recovery Plan for Wood Bison was published in 2001. The goals of the plan are to re-establish a minimum of four viable, healthy, free-roaming wood bison populations in their original range and other herds where potential exists, and to establish long-term cooperative management programs for wood bison in which Aboriginal people and rural communities play an integral role.

The National Wood Bison Recovery Team includes representatives from the federal government (Environment Canada and Parks Canada), provincial governments (Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Yukon, and Northwest Territories), as well as a university/college representative and a member of the public.

What is Parks Canada doing to save the Wood Bison?

Wood Buffalo National Park of Canada protects the habitat of the largest self-regulating free-roaming bison herd in the world. Bison surveys are conducted annually to monitor the bison population. Two types of surveys are done each year – a total count, and a segregation count. The total count provides a population estimate, while the segregation count provides an estimate of productivity (number of cows, calves, yearlings, bulls, etc.). The numbers of wood bison in the park have been increasing since 1999.

Bison are often featured in public education programs, as well as in non-personal media such as publications, exhibits, and interpretive signs. The Nyarling Interpretive Pull-off in the park features information about bison, as do exhibits at the Visitor Reception Centre. Visitors often experience viewing the free roaming bison along the roads in the park, from the safety of their vehicle, for a truly wild and special experience.