Wood bison could be released in southwest Alaska as early as spring 2014 thanks to an agreement worked out between federal and state wildlife authorities.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Thursday formally announced a proposed rule that would allow the threatened species to be reintroduced to Alaska, where wood bison once roamed but disappeared 100 or more years ago.
The state over the last decade had hoped to reintroduce wood bison but paused when federal officials said provisions of the Endangered Species Act could kick in on surrounding lands.
The proposed rule would declare reintroduced wood bison an experimental population managed by the state and exempt from key rules that apply to threatened species.
The public will have 60 days to comment on the proposed rule.