Diseases, reduction in genetic diversity-inbreeding and genetic pollution from domestic cattle
Bovine turberculosis, bovine brucellosis and anthrax have been ravaging the Wood Buffalo National Park herds for the past 30 years. Theses diseases were introduced through the translocation of plains bison, as well as through contact with domestic cattle. In turn, the persistence of these diseases in the wild threatens the bison as ranchers and wildlife managers hope to stop the spread of disease to domestic stock. The issue of disease in wild stock is further exacerbated by the genetic homogenization of the wild population through captive breeding programs, and through loss of wild genotypes through cross-breeding (genetic pollution) with domestic cattle. Indeed, wild bison herds that are disease free and purely bred from historical populations are rare in Canada, let alone Alberta.
Habitat loss: fire suppression-water management
Two major disturbance regimes, fire and flooding, have been absent or severely suppressed in the traditional range of bison, especially in northern Alberta. Fires were intentionally set by First Nations people to move herds, to clear forests and to renew grazing areas. Fire fighting policies of resource management agencies throughout the country have caused the encroachment of forests on to meadowed areas. Flooding was an equally important disturbance vector in northern Alberta along major waterways, such as the Peace River. Flooding, like fire, pushed back forests and renewed the wet meadow sedge and grass vegetation that bison depend upon. Dam building, specifically the W.A.C. Bennet dam in British Columbia has regulated flows for much of the Peace River valley downstream, removing the flood for the landscape.
Road mortality; hunting
Like most wildlife issues, human caused mortality from roads presents a severe threat to the viability of population growth, historical range restoration and landscape connectivity. For example, in a 2001 study, the Hay-Zama herd faced more mortalities from vehicle collisions than predation and other natural causes combined. Further, bison outside the special bison management zone are not considered 'wildlife' by the provincial government. Rather, bison fall through the cracks of legislated protection when they ranger freely and despite the endangered status of this animal, there are still legal hunts that do not need even require a hunting licence.