Bison on the Move: Government of Canada Marks Third Transfer of Elk Island Plains Bison to Montana's American Prairies Reserve

ELK ISLAND NATIONAL PARK, FORT SASKATCHEWAN, AB, March 10, 2014 /CNW/ - Leon Benoit, Member of Parliament, Vegreville - Wainwright on behalf of the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Canada's Environment Minister and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, today announced the transfer of 82 plains bison from Elk Island National Park to American Prairie Reserve in Montana. This is the third such transfer of bison back to their ancestral lands in Montana and another significant step for the recovery of this iconic animal.

As a world leader in conservation, Parks Canada is a significant contributor to Canadian bison conservation. Since 1906, Parks Canada has provided bison from Elk Island National Park to conservation projects in several national parks and conservation areas in western Canada and in the United States. Elk Island National Park has been the source herd for nearly all plains bison in Canada.

Through the Parks Canada Bison Initiative project, Prince Albert National Park in Saskatchewan and Elk Island National Park in Alberta are focussing their resources on enhancing bison habitat, improving visitor opportunities to view and learn about bison, and creating greater awareness of the conservation story of bison.

Quick Facts

  • In 1906, the last large herd of wild plains bison on the Montana plains was purchased by Canada. Their descendents live on in Elk Island National Park, near Edmonton, Alberta, and have been the source ever since of nearly all plains bison herds in Canada.

  • Returning plains bison to Montana, where the herd originated, represents a "homecoming" and is a significant international conservation project contributing to the continued survival of an iconic animal that is the undisputed symbol of North American's interior plains.

  • Plains bison once ranged through the Great Plains of North America. They provided many of life's necessities and were a preferred food source for many North American First Nations people. Cultural and spiritual practices honoured and celebrated bison. Bison were nearly made extinct by agricultural and settlement activities. They have made a comeback as a result of the efforts of concerned citizens, investment by the Government of Canada and more than a century of work by the Parks Canada Agency.

Quotes

"Our Government is committed to protecting and preserving Canada's rich biodiversity. The conservation and survival of plains bison have been an important legacy of Canada's national park system and I am proud to celebrate the latest transfer of bison from Canada to their ancestral home in Montana."
The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq
Minister of Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

"Our Government continues to take significant steps to protect Canada's wildlife. Bison nearly vanished from North America, but they exist in Canada today because of investment from the Canadian government and more than a century of work by Parks Canada. I am  proud of the work our Government and Parks Canada have undertaken and look forward to continuing to bring this incredible story to Canadians."
Leon Benoit
Member of Parliament, Vegreville - Wainwright


SOURCE Parks Canada

For further information:

Office of the Minister of the Environment
819-997-1441

Media Relations
Maureen Shenher
Parks Canada Agency
780-992-2964