Banff bison population thriving, grows from 16 to 100 in Parks Canada pilot

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A final report on a five-year project to bring plains bison back to Banff National Park in Alberta says the herd will stay on the mountain landscape.

Parks Canada published the report, as well as a summary of the public comments on the project, online earlier this week.

Officials say the herd has grown to more than 100 animals, including this year’s calves, from the 16 that were relocated to the Banff backcountry in 2017 from Elk Island National Park near Edmonton.

They say the herd has thrived in the 1,200-square kilometre area on the park’s northeast side for the past five years.

More than 50 comments were submitted by regular Canadians, environmental and industry groups and First Nations as part of the public consultation on the project.

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Overall, Parks Canada says there is strong support for the bison to stay in Canada’s first — and busiest — national park.

“Based on results of the pilot and what we heard, bison will remain on the landscape within Banff National Park for the foreseeable future,” said the report.

“What that looks like and how bison will be managed moving forward will be explored by Parks Canada through the development of a bison management plan.”

The report said that plan will include longer-term monitoring, adaptive management and continued consultation with the province, Indigenous groups and others.

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