Plains bison are one of the many species in the animal kingdom considered to be on it’s last legs of existence. Like those many species, the plains bison once roamed a wide array of places on the Earth, and that number of locations is rapidly dwindling. One spectacular region that some time ago was called home for these creatures was that of Banff National Park, where the last wild plains bison of the area was seen some time in the 1970s.
To the surprise and appeal of many in the line of wildlife conservation and habitat preservation, it has been recently released that new bison will begin to be reintroduced to the park over a five-year initiative. Between the years 1898 and 1997, some of the few remaining wild bison in the area were sent to live in a nearby paddock as an attempt to restore their numbers through captive breeding. The paddock has since been shut down for ecological reasons - the bison moved elsewhere - and at last the proper authorities are prepared to start introducing them into the park once more.
The steps of the five-year plan are as follows:
- Years 1 & 2: planning and prep. Fencing will be deployed in the Panther-Dormer River area.
- Year 3: transplanting of bison from Elk Island National Park to the fenced area.
- Years 4 & 5: provided all is going well, bison will then begin to be released into the park’s eastern slopes and will be monitored onward. Small scale prescribed fires (approximately 1,000 hectares/year) will be deployed to help maintain and improve habitat quality.
This article was of particular interest to me because of my interest in wildlife conservation. It specifically spoke to me above others because, on reading it, I seemed to be naturally recollecting my thoughts. I’ve been all over Canada, and have never once seen a buffalo. I do know that I’ve been to plenty areas the species are supposed to be native to, but no matter how far away from roads or civilization I’ve ever gone, I have not once seen a buffalo in Canada. The idea of this is, quite frankly, disturbing at best. I find myself often involved in projects and things that have to do with habitat and wildlife preservation, but I suppose it’s never really sunk in how few large mammals can still be regularly seen in the wilderness. I’ll admit, reading this article and writing on it now, I’m diverting back to some rather cynical thoughts about how humanity really has condemned the planet it lives on. In saying that, all else I can really add is that I hope, as a whole, society can bounce back and start to repair its faults. Ideally sooner rather than later before there’s nothing left to fix.
“Reintroducing Bison to Banff”. March 10, 2015. Explore Magazine. Web. Recovered: April 23, 2015.