Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Save the wood bison – CITES CoP17 action call

Posted: 14 September 2016. Updated: 5 October 2016

UPDATE: Delegates at CITES CoP17 voted to revoke protections of wood bison. See full results from CITES CoP17 here »

Historically wood bison occurred over a large area in northern Canada and the United States but through hunting and habitat loss have been reduced by 95.7% and now only 10 isolated wild herds remain—9 in Canada and one small herd in the US.

The wood bison is the largest land mammal in North America with adult males weighing an average of 880 kg and adult females 540 kg. Bison have been described as a foundation species and landscape transformer, and their activities of grazing and soil disturbance provide important habitats for many species of plants and animals that are now considered at risk.

Threats for the species today include disease, such as anthrax, bovine tuberculosis, and brucellosis; severe winters resulting in starvation; and drowning.

Ways you can support ADI’s work at CITES CoP17 and push for wildlife protections:

  • Urge your government to commit to helping wildlife under threat - contact DEFRA in the UK and USFWS in the US.

  • Write to your local newspaper to help spread the word.

  • Show your solidarity with lions, elephants, rhino, or other wildlife, by changing your profile picture to one of our #TakingAStand designs.

  • Hold a fun fundraiser to help wild animals in need.

  • Send us photos of you in action for animals, whether you’re distributing our resources dressed as a lion, or taking part in the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos! Email them to

  • Donate to help ADI campaign for animals at CITES and beyond.

The Proposal

Proposal 14: Delete from Appendix II.
Party: Canada.

ADI OPPOSES Canada’s proposal to delete Wood Bison Bison bison athabascae from Appendix II noting:

  • The wood bison has a small population and subpopulation sizes, with a massive historic decline of 95.7% from approximately 168,000 animals in 1800 to as few as 5,213 today.

  • Populations exist in only ten herds, with one herd containing 60% of the species and the other 9 with very small population sizes, fewer than 500 individuals each.

  • The subspecies is traded internationally as live specimens, scientific specimens, and sport-hunted trophies, which may be having a detrimental impact on its status.

  • The species meets criteria for Appendix II: small populations and subpopulations; significant historic population decline; internationally traded; trade may have detrimental impact.
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