'We're forever indebted to Canada': Alaska celebrates first wild-bred bison calves in a century

Wood bison were extinct in Alaska for more than a century, before being reintroduced to the wild last year. Wildlife officials say the animals are now thriving and breeding.

Bison brought from Canada and reintroduced to wild last year

A bison calf travels with the herd in remote Alaska. 130 bison were released to the wild there last year. (Alaska Department of Fish and Game)

For the first time in more than a century, wood bison calves are being bred and born in the Alaska wilderness.

Wildlife biologists have spotted calves born to animals that were released to the wild last summer.

State officials had been raising the bison, obtained from Alberta's Elk Island National Park, in captivity near Anchorage. 130 were then flown to a remote location roughly 450 kilometres away.

"We had many fears of what might happen," said Tom Seaton, who runs the state's wood bison program.

"Like any reintroduction, there's always a chance it could fail."

Seaton's biggest concern was that the animals would disperse and not find each other during mating season. However, most of the bison remained within a 45-kilometre radius, and nature took its course.

"We're forever indebted to Canada for saving the wood bison and restoring the sub-species to a point where it can be reintroduced to Alaska," Seaton said.

"We really owe Canada a lot."