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Wood Bison

Wood bison are North America's largest land mammal. They can be recognized by their huge heads, large shoulder humps and the shaggy brown fur on their shoulders and front legs.

Both sexes have short black horns. Females have straight horns while the male’s horns curve slightly inward. Males are larger than females and can reach 3.8 metres in length and more than 1.8 metres in height. Wood bison are massive creatures ranging in weight from 550 -1000 kilograms.

There are three free-ranging wood bison populations in the Northwest Territories. The Mackenzie and Nahanni populations are disease-free.  The Slave River Lowlands population, part of the greater Wood Buffalo National Park population, is infected with bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis.

The Wood Bison Management Strategy for the Northwest Territories guides the development of population-specific management plans for each of the wood bison populations in the NWT. The management plans, developed in partnership with Tlicho Government, Wildlife Management Boards and community stakeholders, will contain technical objectives and actions to help with the recovery of free-ranging healthy wood bison in the NWT.

Wood bison are listed as Threatened species in Canada. A national recovery plan to for wood bison was completed in 2001.  A review and update of this recovery plan is underway to make sure it conforms to federal Species at Risk Act requirements.

Wood bison have not been assessed yet in the NWT.