Bison Integrated Genomics (BIG) Project
Challenges / Wicked problem
Diseased bison in northern Canada, infected with bovine tuberculosis (bTB) and brucellosis along with small, geographically separated herds are two major barriers to bison conservation in Canada. Current conservation efforts by Parks Canada are severely hampered by consequent threats of bTB and brucellosis spillover, genetic isolation amongst herds, and the potential for catastrophic loss in small geographically segregated herds. These urgent and critical unmet needs cannot be overcome without novel, practical methods of assessing the genetic composition and overcoming disease-related limitations to the movement of breeding stock. In 2020, the recovery of wood bison in Canada has been designated an imminent threat if action is not taken now. The imminent threat designation arose in part from a lack of tools for disease management and from the risk of disease spillover to disease-free herds. Parks Canada, along with other bison management agencies, requires genomic tools to provide solutions to manage these zoonotic diseases and improve gene flow among herds without the risk of introducing disease.