Wild bison have been returned to Canada’s Banff National Park after more than a decade-long absence. Before their exit, more than 30 million bison roamed the plains at Albert’s Banff National Park. Overhunting led the animals to the brink of extinction in the area.
In the early 1900s, the Canadian government stepped in to save a small remaining population in the park and years later Parks Canada is putting bison back in Banff National Park.
16 bison will lead the charge towards repopulation
Parks Canada has successfully moved 16 bison, including two pregnant females, from Elk Island National Park outside of Edmonton into Banff. The wild animals will spend 16 months in an enclosed pasture boefre they are released in the summer of 2018.
“By returning plains bison to Banff National Park, Parks Canada is taking an important step toward restoring the full diversity of species and natural processes to the park’s ecosystems while providing new opportunities for Canadians and visitors to connect with the story of this iconic species,” said Catherine McKenna, Canada’s Federal Minister of environment and climate change.
Years of research was required
The organization spent years researching the best way to return bison back to their original habitat. So far, their plan seems to be playing out exactly as expected.
“This is a great day for Banff National Park. It’s a great day for Canada and frankly, it’s one of the great days for wildlife conservation in the history of North America,” said Harvey Locke of the Eleanor Luxton Historical Foundation in Banff.
Researchers believe the newly installed bison will prosper in their natural habitat, although only time will tell.
“I don’t think the challenges for this herd are very large, because we know from the archeological record that bison were in this park for over 10,000 years,” says Locke. “I think it’s going to go very, very well, because it’s a native species in its native habitat.”
Wolves as Yellowstone have proven these programs can be a huge success
We have seen similar placement programs work in other geographic areas and with different animals. Wolves being successfully placed back inside of Yellowstone National Park, for example, has proven to be a huge success.