The other day I posted something about always being a teacher and always finding ways to teach people new things.
Well, probably my favorite thing about traveling is learning new things that I never knew before, and I had one of those moments last night!
On the hotel channel about what to do in Alaska, I saw a video very similar to this:
Bison in Alaska? Really? I had no idea!
So I had to do some more research.
It turns out that wood bison are in fact native to Alaska. Wood bison are relatives to the plains bison that we have talked about in class that were used by the Native Americans of the plains region. Wood bison are bigger – an average male wood bison weighs 2,250 pounds compared to 1,900 pounds for an average male plains bison. That makes them the largest land mammal in North America! The humps on their backs are shaped differently and they are darker in color. Athabaskan people hunted them using tools like snowshoes, dogs, spears and arrows. They used the meat which they could dry to save for the winter. They used the hides for clothing and shelter. The wood bison has been extinct in Alaska for over 100 years.
In 2003 the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center brought 53 of them from the Yukon Territory in Canada and have been managing the herd which is growing by leaps and bounds.
The plan seems to be to release a portion of the herd into the wild in the interior of Alaska and restore it to its native lands. I’ve written to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center to see if they can give me some more details, but I did find a newspaper article that says the release may happen this spring. The date seems to have changed a few times.
Can you imagine coming upon a herd of them on your dog sled? Yikes!
Here is a link to an article I found on National Geographic if you are interested – link.
And here is the link to the Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Center – link.
I may have to change what I teach about what the natives of Alaska used for food… I just never knew….