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.
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.
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.
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.