#BeardsforBison – And the Winner Is?

Congratulations to our #BeardsForBison Instagram contest winner, Suzanne Steinert! Suzanne is a Naturalist and Animal Care Intern at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC) in Girdwood, Alaska, and will receive an Orvis Stetson Bison Hat.

The Orvis hirsute illuminati were struck by the one-two combination of Suzanne’s beard and upturned eyebrow, indicating a sense of #BeardsForBison fervor. We asked our winner what her inspiration was.

“So, we’re really excited about our bison at the moment,” said Suzanne. “And for National Bison Day on November 1st, we decided to have some fun by offering free admission to any folks with beards (real or fake), and donning some of our own as we went about our workday. Since our intern staff is currently all female, my supervisor went to the local Halloween store and bought a handful of fake beards that were on sale for like six bucks a pop. Mine was “The Pirate” — and was nice and warm, since as you can see in the photo, there’s already plenty of snow on the ground up here!”

Why so excited about Bison and National Bison Day? Turns out the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is the home to a herd of nearly 150 wood bison – the only herd in the U.S.

“Consider them the ‘northern cousins’ to the plains bison,” Suzanne explained. “They roamed Alaska and Canada by the thousands until they were driven to extinction over 100 years ago, and are actually one of the only species in the world that have been placed on the extinction list then taken off if it!”

Members of the heard will soon have a new home. In the spring of 2015 the organization will move 130 of the wood bison via cargo plane to a wildlife preserve 300 miles west of Anchorage. It is part of the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center’s Wood Bison Reintroduction Project. You can learn more about it in the video below.

Thanks again to all who participated and to the Wildlife Conservation Society for allowing all of us to participate in such a great campaign.

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