May 022012
 

FWS will publish a final rule tomorrow (May 3) downlisting the wood bison.

For those not familiar with the terminology, “downlist” means “to change from endangered to threatened.” That’s my own definition; it may not be found in any reputable dictionary.

Just let me sleep (Photo from "The 'splorin' Wolfies" blog)

The service said it’s changing Bison bison athabascae‘s designation from E to T because there are more of the big fellows in the wild.

From the FR’s pre-publication version:

“This action is based on a review of the best available scientific and commercial data, which indicate that the primary threat that led to population decline, unregulated hunting, is no longer a threat and that recovery actions have led to a substantial increase in the number of herds that have a stable or increasing trend in population size. Critical habitat has not been designated because free-ranging wood bison only occur in Canada and we do not designate critical habitat in foreign countries.”

TABLE 1.—Sizes of wood bison herds in Canada from 1978 to 2008 (data provided by Canadian Wildlife Service).

Herd Category and Name 1978 1988 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008
Free-ranging, disease-free herds
Mackenzie 300 1,718 1,908 2,000 2,000 ~ 2,000 1,600
Nahanni - 30 160 170 399 400 400
Aishihik - - 500 530 550 700 1,100
Hay-Zama - - 130 234 350 600 750
Nordquist - - 50 60 112 140 140
Etthithun - - - 43 70 124 124
Chitek Lake - - 70 100 150 225 300
Free-ranging, diseased herds
Wood Buffalo1 National Park - - 2,178 4,050 4,9472 5,6413 4,6394

1 Excluding adjacent diseased Wentzel, Wabasca, and Slave River Lowlands herds.
2 Population estimate for year 2003.
3 Population estimate for year 2005.
4 Population estimate for year 2007.