BANFF – Another bison has bolted from Banff National Park making it the third bull to leave the reintroduced herd in the past year.
According to Parks Canada, the federal agency received a report of the plains bison in a remote region outside Banff National Park and outside the Provincial Upper Red Deer Special Bison Area on Aug. 1.
Over the course of the next two days, Parks Canada resource conservation staff used aerial searches, ground patrols and remote cameras to look for the animal, but were unable to find it.
After another report from a member of the public and an extensive search, Parks Canada said in a statement it located the animal approximately 15 kilometres northwest of Sundre on Aug. 4.
"Given the proximity of this bison to agricultural areas and the continued eastward movement towards surrounding communities, Parks Canada made the decision to immobilize and relocate the bison to Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site," wrote Justin Brisbane, a public relations and communications officer for Parks Canada.
"This is consistent with commitments made to the Province of Alberta and stakeholders, that Parks Canada would take quick action if bison were to move beyond accepted areas."
This is the third bison bull to wander onto provincial land from the reintroduced herd since Parks Canada released 31 wild plains bison into a 1,200 square reintroduction zone in Banff National Park's backcountry last summer.
Last August, Parks Canada had to kill a bison bull after it continued to move eastward towards private grazing ground while the other was relocated to Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site.
The $6.4 million project is part of Parks Canada's efforts to explore the long-term feasibility of restoring North America’s largest land mammal to Canada’s first national park. The species is considered extirpated in Alberta and the herd is only one of three roaming free in North America.
Since the plains bison herd was released into the reintroduction zone last summer at least two new calves have been born bringing the current herd to 35 animals. The reintroduction zone is not completely fenced, allowing bison to roam freely into other parts of the national park and occasionally onto provincial lands.
Parks Canada said the relocated bison is safe and healthy, however, it will no longer be part of the reintroduction project and will not be returned to Banff National Park. Instead, the bison will join the small herd of plains bison that Parks Canada manages at Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site.