Just in time for National Bison Day on November 5th, WCS’s Arctic Beringia program has released a new film that follows 28 wood bison yearlings released in the Alaska wilderness.

The restoration project, coordinated by Tom Seaton & Luke Rogers with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game, continues the ongoing efforts of local and State partners to return wood bison to their historic range. This film follows a current and unfolding story of rewilding and wildlife restoration and offers an intimate view of the hard work and personal passion involved in wood bison reintroduction that’s actively trying to make the world a better place.

Wood bison are the largest native land mammal alive in North America. Their range spans from Alaska to Central Canada. By the 1940’s they were presumed extinct.

The film is produced, shot and edited by Woodruff Laputka of WCS’s Arctic Beringia program.

“Many, many people have been involved in wood bison conservation where the baton has been passed from people who really cared about restoring wood bison, from one person or one group to the next, and we are but one small group in a long chain of people and a long relay of bison conservation of passing the baton and we’re the ones with the baton at the moment and we’re running like heck,” said Tom Seaton, Wood Bison Restoration Project Lead of the Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G).

Filmmaker Woodruff Laputka, with WCS’s Arctic Beringia program, followed the transport, release and subsequent monitoring of the 28 wood bison yearling in the Innoko Grasslands of Alaska.

This film is the first in an ongoing series covering the wood bison restoration effort in Alaska.

WCS has a long history with bison restoration beginning with efforts more than 100 years ago to restock reserves on the Great Plains with animals from the Bronx Zoo. More recently, WCS worked with a broad coalition of partners to establish the bison as the U.S. national mammal, which was signed into law by President Obama in 2016.