TO BANFF: A TIMELINE
By Meghan J. Ward
This article was created with the assistance of Marie-Eve Marchand and Harvey Locke at Bison Belong.
It has been 140 years since bison roamed free in Banff National Park. But, this month, all that has changed as a small herd of Plains bison was translocated from Elk Island National Park to Banff. With the help of Bison Belong, an organization dedicated to the animal’s reintroduction, we put together a timeline to put this recent success into context.
REINTRODUCING BISON TO
From the day the Plains bison are reintroduced in Banff National Park they will be held in a fenced, soft-release pasture for 16 months. The herd includes a number of pregnant females, who will calve twice in the soft-release pasture to help them ‘anchor’ to the landscape. This will help them to develop a strong bond with the area. It is anticipated the cows will calve twice during this time, increasing the size of the herd to approximately 30 animals. After the first 16-18 months of soft release, the bison will roam a reintroduction zone spanning 1,189-square-kilometres of the Eastern Slopes of Banff National Park.
If you’d like to pay them a visit, it’ll require a multi-day trek: from Lake Minnewanka, along the Cascade River, it should take you three days in to get to the reintroduction area either via North Cascade Pass or through the Dormer Pass and the cut-off to Panther.
Click on the first image to enlarge and begin the slideshow:
The plains bison are all descendants of the Pablo Herd. (Learn more in the book Last of the Buffalo Return to the Wild published September 2016).
Writer, adventurer, outdoorsy mama and summit cartwheeler, Meghan J. Ward is the editor and co-founder at Crowfoot Media and lives for backcountry getaways.