After a century of separation, this herd of wild bison has finally returned home to the Banff National Park in Alberta.
Bison used to roam through the park’s Eastern slopes during the early 1900’s, but human interference almost wiped out the local species entirely. The Canadian government saved the herd in a multi-million dollar buyout and relocated the animals to Elk Island National Park for conservation purposes.
Since bison were historically the dominant grazing species of Banff, the return of the herd will provide healthy diversity for the local ecosystem.
The herd is currently being closely monitored by Parks Canada within a carefully restricted zone. In June 2018, the bison will be allowed a much more expanded space to roam. The reintroduction program is taking these steps slowly so as to ensure a smooth transition for the species, the ecosystem, and surrounding property.
“Restoring wild bison … is the righting of wrong that was caused in the 19th century when we almost eliminated wild bison as a species.… Banff Park was involved in saving the species from extinction 100 years ago, and today it’s involved in restoring this species as part of the landscape, as a wild animal, and that is really exciting,” conservationist Harvey Locke told CBC.
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