Wild bison roam Banff National Park for 1st time in more than century
'It's one of the great days for wildlife conservation in the history of North America'
The first wild bison to roam Banff National Park in more than a century have been airlifted into a remote valley in a "historic homecoming" aimed at re-establishing a thriving herd, Parks Canada said Monday.
The 16 bison — primarily pregnant two year olds — were loaded onto shipping containers on trucks in Elk Island National Park, about 35 kilometres east of Edmonton, and transported to the park in the past week.
The shipping containers were ferried by helicopter over the slopes and lowered into an enclosed pasture in Panther Valley near Sundre on the eastern slopes of the park.
The bison were let out into the pasture, where they'll stay for 16 months while being closely monitored by Parks Canada using radio collars.
Eventually, in the summer of 2018, they'll be released into a 1,200-square-kilometre area on the eastern slopes of the park, where they can interact with other native species, forage for food and integrate into the ecosystem.