Developing Policy Alternatives for the Management of Wood Bison (Bison bison athabascae) in Kluane National Park and Reserve of Canada


  • Christine Markel Saskatcewan Ministry of Environment.
  • Douglas Clark University of Saskatchewan


A reintroduced population of wood bison (Bison bison athabascae) in the southwest Yukon has been growing and expanding its range; without intervention these bison are expected to soon migrate into Kluane National Park and Reserve of Canada. In order to enable a proactive response, we identify the key historical, social, ecological, and legal issues faced in the development of a wood bison management strategy for the park, including the critical question of whether they should be considered a native or an exotic species in the park. We believe wood bison should be considered native there. It is unclear what impact—positive or negative—bison will have on the ecological integrity of the park, since ecological integrity is a sufficiently plastic concept that it can be interpreted as including or excluding bison. We identify a range of alternative management strategies and the largely normative trade-offs associated with each, plus a set of actions that would be useful regardless of the alternative ultimately selected. A rational, feasible, and justifiable decision about the future of bison in the park will require a high-functioning and open co-management process so that participants with different values, knowledge, strategies, and interests can articulate and achieve their common interests.

Author Biographies

Christine Markel, Saskatcewan Ministry of Environment.

Christine Markel works with the Environmental Assessment Branch at the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment.

Douglas Clark, University of Saskatchewan

Doug Clark holds the Centennial Chair in Human Dimensions of Environment & Sustainability and is assistant professor at the School of Environment and Sustainability, University of Saskatchewan.






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