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Waterton Lakes National Park welcomes back bison displaced after Kenow wildfire

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WATCH ABOVE: Waterton Lakes National Park has welcomed back six bison to its mountainous wildlands. Quinn Campbell explains the ecological and cultural importance of their return – Feb 25, 2021

Waterton Lakes National Park has welcomed back six bison to its mountainous wildlands.

In a tweet on Wednesday, the southern Alberta park announced the animals had arrived last week from Elk Island National Park, near Fort Saskatchewan.

Read more: The Kenow wildfire forced Waterton Park’s animals to flee

The plains bison were moved to Elk Island in 2017 after their habitat was damaged in the Kenow wildfire. Parks Canada said the fescue prairie in the bison’s paddock was resorted enough to sustain the large animals.

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The animals’ transport back to their home was helped by a bison specialist who is also a member of the Kainai First Nation.

The plains bison, called Iinnii in Blackfoot, were welcomed with a blessing from Blackfoot elders, who also blessed the land through a private prayer known as Paahtomahksikimi.

Read more: Mother Nature will restore Waterton forest after wildfire but it could take decades: expert

Parks Canada said the bison will spend the winter in the park’s winter paddock, before moving to the summer paddock when the weather warms.

People will be able to once again see the bison by driving the Paddock Loop Road in spring 2021. Exact dates of their return will be announced at a later date.

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