The Bison Are Back in Banff
This post was written by guest blogger Tehjae Tsukada.
Bison are roaming Banff National Park for the first time in over 100 years thanks to efforts by Parks Canada. On February 1, 2017, the Bison were moved to the Panther Valley from Elk Island.
This official reintroduction marks the beginning of a five-year plan laid out by Parks Canada. Currently, the Bison are in the soft-release stage. They will be contained in a 12-hectare pasture for another 16 months. Eventually, Parks Canada intends to allow the Bison to roam a 1,200 km2 reintroduction zone along the eastern borders of Banff.
This video posted by Parks Canada details the behind the scenes of choosing a location for the Bison as well as the construction of the pasture system.
Just seven months after their introduction to the park, there are already signs that the new herd is adapting well. According to the Parks Canada blog, there are “herd dynamics are forming.” The herd is beginning to establish leaders and cliques. Another sign the herd is thriving is the birth of 10 calves between April 22 and May of 2017.
Bison roamed Canada’s lands for hundreds of years, and there was once 30 million spread across North American plains. However, by the end of the 1800s, that number decreased to fewer than 1,000. The Canadian government at that time, recognized the need to preserve the species and sent a number of Bison to the plains in Montana. Since that time Bison have not roamed wild in Canada, until now.
These conservation efforts have been achieving recognition across the globe. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature is beginning to employ Parks Canada strategies for “ecological restoration as the global standard.” Canada is being recognized as a leader in the social and scientific collision involved in nature conservation.
The return of Bison to Banff marks an intersection between environmental and cultural stewardship. Parks Canada has consulted First Nations partners in the “ecological restoration process.” The organization wants visitors to experience an exciting environment while remaining focused on preserving the “ecological integrity of the park.” Parks Canada hopes that the success of the species recovery program and reintroduction program can be a source of pride for all Canadians.