Washington, April 30 : A new evaluation has suggested that the Bison can make a comeback in large areas from Alaska in the US to Mexico over the next 100 years, provided a series of conservation and restoration measures are taken.
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and other groups took the continental assessment of this species.
According to the researchers, ecological restoration of bison, a keystone species in American natural history, could occur where conservationists and others see potential for large, unfettered landscapes over the next century.
The general sites identified in the paper range from grasslands and prairies in the southwestern US, to Arctic lowland taiga in Alaska where the sub-species wood bison could once again roam.
Large swaths of mountain forests and grasslands are identified as prime locations across Canada and the US, while parts of the desert in Mexico could also again support herds that once lived there.
The researchers assessed the restoration potential of these areas by creating a "conservation scorecard" that evaluated the availability of existing habitat, potential for interaction with other native species, and a variety of other factors, including the socio-economic climate of the regions and the potential for cultural re-connection with bison.
The higher the score of these factors, the more likely restoration could take place over time.
"The bison is one of the great living symbols of North America," said the paper's lead author, Dr. Eric Sanderson of the Wildlife Conservation Society.
"This assessment shows us what is possible; that with hard work and ambitious goals, we can restore this iconic species to a surprising amount of its former range over the next century," he added.
According to Dr. Steven E. Sanderson, President and CEO of WCS, the bison is an important part of the heritage of not only the Wildlife Conservation Society, but the United States.
"One hundred years ago, through our efforts and the efforts of others, the bison was saved from extinction. We are now looking 100 years from now, because we believe there is an ecological future for the bison in the North American landscape," he said.
According to the research groups, ecological restoration would occur when large herds of plains and wood bison can move freely across extensive landscapes within major habitats of their historic ranges.
It would also include bison interacting with the fullest possible set of other native species, as well as inspiring, sustaining and connecting human cultures.
Ecological restoration will likely take a century, said WCS, and will only be realized through collaboration with a broad range of public, private and indigenous partners.