So I am very happy to read about the return of Bison to Banff National Part in Alberta. (If you have never visited the Canadian Rockies, you should do so—it is a stunningly beautiful place.)
After being hunted to extinction over 100 years ago, a small herd is being reintroduced this year. This is a very careful operation. Sixteen Bison, many of them pregnant, were airlifted from their quarantine at Elk Island National Park to an enclosure. After adjusting to the new environment, they will be let out into a larger area, before being released into the wild. (This is characterized as a “soft release”.)
This represents the culmination of many years work by environmentalists and an alliance of native tribes who wish to see bison rewilded in many areas of North America. The bison is a “keystone” species, with an important role in the health of natural prairie and plains ecologies.
It is also, of course, a vital part of traditional culture for the peoples who lived here before the European mass migration.
“The Buffalo was part of us, his flesh and blood being absorbed by us until it became our own flesh and blood. Our clothing, our tipis, everything we needed for life came from the buffalo’s body. It was hard to say where the animals ended and the human began.“ – John (Fire) Lame Deer, Oglala-Lame Deer Seeker of Visions, With Richard Erdoes, 1972
- BBC News, Bison return to Banff national park in Canada. BBC News.February 6 2017,
- Bison Belong. Bison Belong. 2017, http://www.bisonbelong.ca/en/.
- Inter Tribal Buffalo Council. Inter Tribal Buffalo Council. 2017, http://itbcbuffalo.com/.
- Merrit Kennedy, After More Than A Century, Bison Return To Canada’s Oldest National Park, in The Two Way. 2017: National Public Radio. http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/02/07/513935921/after-more-than-a-century-bison-return-to-canadas-oldest-national-park
- Lisa Monforton, Wild bison roam Banff National Park for 1st time in more than century. CBC News.February 6 2017, http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/bison-buffalo-banff-national-park-1.3969106