The Arizona Game and Fish Commission recently signed a memorandum of agreement with the U.S. Department of Interior, National Park Service, and Wind Cave National Park (WICA) in western South Dakota to establish a Plains Bison Conservation Herd, with WICA genetic lineage, at the Raymond Wildlife Area (RWA) in northern Arizona.
The commission-owned location was identified to be part of a national effort to conserve bison lineages that have high genetic purity, genetic diversity, and rare bison genes.
The goal of this new effort is to establish an ecologically and genetically restored conservation herd of WICA bison at RWA, while maintaining the population at levels which provide diverse recreational opportunities and avoid adverse impacts to the habitat.
The Game and Fish Department manages two herds of bison, including another at House Rock, east of the Kaibab Plateau. Both herds are descendants from an unsuccessful bison-cattle, cross-breeding effort more than 100 years ago.
Results of genetic testing show that both herds have high levels of cattle DNA, as do most remaining bison lineages, but it does not diminish their value as bison to the public.
Replacement of the RWA bison herd will be complete in fall 2017. The department will carefully manage the new bison herd, to allow for wildlife viewing opportunities, habitat management, and closely managed public hunts.
source: Arizona Game and Fish Department