Bi­son

LANA CORTESE, ecol­o­gist

Canadian Geographic - - WOOD BUFFALO - —As told to Harry Wil­son

There are around 3,000 bi­son here, in five sub­pop­u­la­tions: in the delta, south­east of the Peace River, in­clud­ing around Lake Claire; Gar­den River, in the south­west; Hay Camp, which is east-cen­tral; Lit­tle Buf­falo, in the north­east; and Nyarling, in the north­west. In the past, the pop­u­la­tion was sta­ble and in­creas­ing, but the re­sults of the 2014 sur­vey in­di­cate a de­cline from 2009. A num­ber of things could be in­flu­enc­ing the pop­u­la­tion, in­clud­ing habi­tat change, pre­da­tion and chang­ing cli­mate, and we have plans for stud­ies to try to iden­tify the cause. One fas­ci­nat­ing thing about the bi­son is their re­la­tion­ship with wolves. This is one of the only places in the world where a preda­tor-prey re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two has per­sisted through time, which demon­strates the truly wild na­ture of the ecosys­tems and species here.

Clock­wise from this im­age: a bi­son on the park’s salt plains; a bi­son at rest among the trees; two whoop­ing cranes in their nest­ing habi­tat; a close-up of the same two birds.

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