For more than a decade, Stephenson has been a champion of the wood bison, a long, rangy grazing animal that disappeared from Alaska about 200 years ago but has been brought back from near extirpation in Canada. Stephenson hopes to bring the animals back to Alaska someday, to place them on the same range they once knew, restoring their cultural, ecological and economic significance. It is an ambitious goal that at least one biologist claims “would be one of the greatest conservation opportunities of the century.”
This is a neat story of a few scientists’ quest to reintroduce this species. They thought it was extinct from the area for thousands of years, but discovered that it was only a couple hundred. Now their getting ready to introduce the species into its old habitat in Alaska. If it succeeds, they may have to get rid of the plains bison introduced in some areas, to protect the unique genetics of the woodland species.
Then, in 2003, state DOT biologists discovered the mussels in Little Creek near the path of the bypass, forcing engineers to rework the road again. The biologists had spent more than 300 hours wading and scuba diving in six Johnston County streams, scouring among tangled tree roots and muddy banks looking for dwarf wedge mussels.
Their search turned up only three specimens, two in Little Creek and one in Swift Creek, far fewer than surveys found in Swift Creek in the 1990s, said Gary Jordan, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Raleigh.
“It’s not painting a good picture for the dwarf wedge mussel. Therein lies the need for extreme measures to save it,” Jordan said.
People are pissed that some mussels are holding up a bypass bridge. The article points out that while 75% of bridges are held up, only 16% are because of mussels. Ongoing research in the area has found new species and populations that people thought were extinct. But the presence of endangered species doesn’t hold up every project where mussels are found, only areas where the species is in specific dangers.