(Portage, AK) As a new day dawning with a wood bison calf being born, it was a bittersweet moment for AWCC staff. As the mother cow gave birth, complications occurred causing relentless hemorrhaging. While AWCC staff rejoiced over the birth of a healthy female calf, it was with heavy hearts as the mother was unable to make it through the morning.
Experienced staff noticed something awry as the calf urgently attempted to nurse from its mother. Mother’s first milk, or colostrum, is essential to a newborn as it is full of antibodies. From the moment a calf is born, the clock is ticking on its ability to absorb larger proteins due to the closing of cells within the calf’s lower intestines.Executive Director Mike Miller elaborates by stating, “At the second nursing absorption can be as low as two-thirds of what could have been absorbed at birth.”
Miller added that, “It is essential to get the first milk into the calf – the sooner, the better.”Without a mothers close watch, the experienced staff at AWCC will raise this special calf to later rejoin the herd. Randi, as the calf has become known, was named as a tribute to Randy Rogers. Randy Rogers was an integral member of the wood bison reintroduction team even after his retirement from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Randy lost his courageous battle with esophageal cancer in April.
AWCC and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game are working to reintroduce wood bison back into the wilds of Alaska. Because Randi is likely to become habituated to the caretakers at AWCC she will not be a candidate for reintroduction. Randi will have a permanent home at AWCC in Portage, where she will live to give birth to new generations of releasable wood bison calves.