A home on the range is set for bison to return to Banff National Park
Banff Park Museum, March 6, 2015
Read Parks Canada Plan (March 2015). The map is on page 9!
Today Mr. Blake Richards, Member of Parliament for Wild Rose on behalf of the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, announced a special dedicated budget and set in motion the formal plan to reintroduce Bison in Banff National Park.
"This announcement, with money to back it up, rights a historical wrong by taking concrete action to bring wild bison back to Banff National Park where they belong" says Bill Luxton, chairman of the Banff-based Eleanor Luxton Foundation dedicated to the history, ecology and culture of the Bow Valley which has coordinated the Bison Belong campaign. "We are thrilled".
"This is great day for Banff National Park. Over the last fifteen years Parks Canada has moved slowly and carefully from idea, to study, to plan and finally today to action," added Marie-Eve Marchand, Bison Belong coordinator.
Wild plains bison (also called buffalo) are a natural part of the Banff National Park ecosystem. Unfortunately they were wiped out in wild the 19th century. Their bones are often found when excavations are done for buildings or roads in the area. The last wild bison was seen in the area that is now Banff Park in the 1870s before the park was established in 1885.
The plains bison went from many millions to near extinction in North America.
From 1898 to 1997, some of the remaining few wild bison and their descendants were sent to live in a paddock in Banff National Park as part of a successful effort to bring the species back to viable numbers through captive breeding. In 1997 the paddock was removed for sound ecological reasons. Parks Canada has been contemplating the reintroduction of wild plains bison ever since. There are wild bison available in Elk Island National Park near Edmonton.
There has been a local, national and international outpouring of support for the return of this iconic species to Canada's most iconic national park. The wide variety of supporters can be seen on the Bison Belong website. "It is wonderful to work with so many enthusiastic people on such a great cause" said Marchand.
"This is landmark event in the history of the Bow Valley" added Bill Luxton.
National Public consultation from Parks Canada from September 9 to November 1, 2013
Thank you for participating in the public consultation period. Follow us on Facebook for updates.
On September 9, 2013 Parks Canada released for public comment an excellent plan for the reintroduction of wild plains bison in Banff National Park. The Bison Belong campaign supports the plan!
Here is what we like and what is proposed in the Banff National Park plan to reintroduce wild bison:
- The five year plan begins by introducing a small number (30-50) bison in the back country with the vision of them being more visible to parks visitors over time around the Lake Minnewanka/Cascade area of the Bow Valley (beyond five years).
- The plains bison will be coming from Elk Island National Park, near Edmonton, where the herd is disease free. Parks Canada is recognized internationally for its expertise in restoring wild bison.
- Based on best practices and decades of experience in Canada, United States, and Russia, Parks Canada is proposing to "soft release" of a herd, largely comprised of yearling and two-year olds that will initially be held and monitored in a large area that provides high quality feed, shelter and water.
- The fencing proposed is non-continuous (about 21km), and will be permeable to other wildlife species while being resistant to bison movements. Bison Belong recognizes the need for initial fences to serve three different roles depending on the geographical location;
- Interim management fencing to contain bison movements within Banff's boundaries,
- "Good neighbour policy" fencing (at low elevation points on the eastern boundary of the park slope to contain bison within Banff National Park).
- A state-of-the-art wildlife permeable fence at Carrot Creek to ensure road and public safety. View PDF Map...
- Parks Canada has interesting plans for the public, including First Nations engagement with bison. This is very positive and will open up the possibility to create innovative experiences for citizen participation and stewardship, sciences acquisition, education programs and First Nation lead ceremonies related to the bison.
Please let Parks Canada know you are eager to see wild plains bison in Banff National Park before November 1, 2013.
Parks Canada needs to know that Canadian and visitors support this important ecological restoration based on cultural, historical and ecological values.
Send your comments below, and like us on Facebook, highlight any of the points above or others you will like.
Click here to read Parks Canada's Plan to reintroduce this iconic species in Banff National Park.
All comments are sent directly to Parks Canada at firstname.lastname@example.org.