Wild Bison Return to Banff National Park

Wild Bison Return to Banff National Park


My name is Karsten Heuer and I am the bison reintroduction project manager for Banff National Park. My job is to orchestrate all the moving parts of trying to get bison from Elk Island National Park into Banff National Park. Parks Canada’s primary mandate is to ensure what we call ecological integrity, which means the health of the ecosystem. And because something has been missing, North America’s largest land mammal, part of our job is to try to bring it back. And that’s what this is all about. It’s about that effort. From about noon today until about hopefully about noon tomorrow, so a 24 hour period we are actually going to be doing an operation that has a lot different moving parts. The first part is bringing the animals through the Elk Island corral system and chute system give them a tranquilizer, and then do some last minute changes to ear tagging. And then we will start to load them in groups of three and four through the chute system up the loading ramp, into the containers that we’ve modified They’re basically seacans or shipping containers with ventilation in them and a few additions to the doors. And then, we’ll truck them for 400 km. That will then take us to the end of the gravel road, Ya Ha Tinda Ranch. And then we will actually bring in a helicopter in tomorrow, a heavy lift helicopter that’s coming from the coast and that will pluck each individual crate off the flat-bed trucks. One by one, over the ridge, about 20 km into the heart of the reintroduction zone. Where we have a pasture fenced. Where we are going to hold them for the next 16 months, feed them, support them allow them to calve safely twice, and then do the release after they have anchored to that landscape. And have adopted it as their new home. There’s been so much research, there’s been so much consultation, like literally years. We’ve got everything in place that we could have possibly thought of. And really, from here on in, it’s going to be up to the animals. You know, we are talking about giving a species a second chance. The seed that we are planting today, you can’t almost imagine what it might lead to in 50 or 100 years.

9 thoughts on “Wild Bison Return to Banff National Park

  1. Is the date of release in to the wild known yet? Coming to the park in June '18 but that is probably to early to see them I suppose…?

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