U.S. Department of Interior
For what is believed to be the first time in more than 140 years, this past weekend, bison calves were born in Banff National Park’s backcountry.
According to an article in The Globe and Mail, Parks Canada revealed that, so far, three calves have made their debut; with the first baby bison entering the world on Saturday
Banff resource conservation manager Bill Hunt confirmed yesterday that the newborn animals and their mothers are doing well despite the heavy snow in the area.
“Fortunately, bison are very well-adapted, so these little calves drop out, get their legs straightaway, start nursing and do fine,” explained Hunt, who called their birth a “momentous occasion,” to Voice of America.
Parks Canada staff, who are monitoring the calves while protecting them from potential predators, reportedly expect seven more calves to be born sometime before the end of this month or in May.
In February, Parks Canada moved 16 bison, including 10 pregnant cows and six young bulls, from east of Edmonton to a secure pasture in a remote area of the park as part of a $6.4 million dollar reintroduction project.
The arrival of the calves in Banff is especially significant because “mothers tend to develop a connection with the land where they gave birth for the first time.”
During the summer 2018, the bison, also known as buffalo, will be released into the balance of the 460-square-mile reintroduction zone. Since mating usually takes place in August, the females are expected to give birth to another new generation of bison babies prior to the move.
Once migrating across North America in herds of up to 30 million, the bison population has steadily decreased, almost to the point of being hunted to extinction in the late 19th century.
The birth of the bison, along with Parks Canada’s positive plans for their future, is wonderful and much-needed good news in the world of animal welfare and conservation!