Russian experiment abandons plans to export Alaska bison

September 25, 2018

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A Russian bio-engineering experiment has abandoned plans to export 12 Alaska bison because of difficulty finding a company capable of making the journey.

The animals from Stevens Village Bison Farm, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) southwest of Fairbanks, Alaska, spent the spring and summer seasons in quarantine, costing the Pleistocene Park $1,500 a week, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported .

The Pleistocene Park is an attempt to test a hypothesis that restoring the Arctic to the more than 10,000-year-old mammoth steppe ecosystem can slow the acceleration of global warming. Restoring the mammoth steppe landscape involves importing lots of large mammals to a 6.3-square-mile (16.3-square-kilometer) enclosure.

Park logistics man Luke Griswold-Tergis worked to persuade air cargo companies in Russia, Alaska and Canada to consider flying the bison. Each potential company ended up backing out because of issues including visas and mechanical problems.

“We had no viable way of getting them to Russia. We tried everything and were planning on giving up several times and there’d be some new glimmer of hope and we’d decide to pursue it,” Griswold-Tergis said. “At some point, you’ve got to quit.”

The Pleistocene Park raised more than $175,000 from donors through a Kickstarter.com campaign and a more recent Indiegogo.com campaign. Expenses this spring and summer from keeping the bison in quarantine and paying to fly in a U.S. Department of Agriculture veterinarian totaled about $30,000.

While the park has given up on the goal of importing the Alaska bison, donors will still receive their T-shirts, coffee mugs, reindeer mammoth tusk souvenirs and other “thank you” perks advertised on the crowdsourcing websites, Griswold-Tergis said.

Griswold-Tergis said he is now looking into sourcing the bison from either Canada or other parts of the United States.


Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com

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