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Alaska to Reintroduce Wood Bison
The wood bison, common to the Alaskan wilderness for nearly 10,000 years before they disappeared, will once again return to the Alaskan frontier. After eight years of raising the endangered animals in partnership with staff at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, the Alaska Department of Fish and Wildlife has received approval from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reintroduce wood bison into three areas of the state, the Anchorage Daily News reported in May.
The approval came through a rule published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allowing a “non-essential experimental” population to be reintroduced in three designated areas. Department officials announced they will introduce an initial group of animals to the Innoko River area in western Alaska in spring 2015. The Minto and Yukon flats areas also were approved for reintroduction of the bison.
The regulation has been in development for nearly 10 years, and earlier iterations would have placed strict burdens on landowners in the approved release areas if they wanted to pursue development. Through the final approved regulations, however, the state is authorized to manage the bison population in the identified areas with exemptions for incidental effects of development, land management and regulated hunting.
Wood bison, at nearly 2,000 pounds, are the largest land mammal in North America. State officials plan to transport 100 bison from the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Girdwood to the Innoka area via C-130 aircraft using specially designed trailers.
“Who knows what it’s like to fly 100 wood bison out to this area?” said Mike Miller, executive director of the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. “It feels like a good challenge, but sort of intimidating.”
RIGHT TO TRY
Arizonans will consider a ballot measure in November to decide whether terminally ill patients can have access to experimental drugs that have not yet completed the review and approval process through the Federal Drug Administration, The Arizona Republic reported in May. If passed, the measure would allow drug companies to provide experimental drugs, biological products and medical devices that have completed Phase 1 clinical trials by the FDA to terminally ill patients who request them.
Idaho is seeing the benefits of an effort to promote state parks passes to the public, Stateline.org reported in May. After the state legislature cut parks funding by 80 percent at the height of the recession, the Idaho Department of Parks replaced its $40 season pass with a $10 “parks passport,” good for entry to any of its 30 state parks. Last year, 95,800 people purchased the $10 passport—compared to the 15,000 on average who bought the season pass—generating $1 million in revenue.