A herd of plains bison has been reintroduced back to Banff National Park in Canada, a land where they had previously roamed free for thousands of years. You can now watch the soul-stirring moment they are released from their shipping containers onto the plains to join their friends. Is someone cutting onions in here?
The 16 plains bison, mostly young and pregnant females, were released back into their native land in Alberta last week. This bison gang will remain in a sectioned-off pasture for 16 months where they can be monitored before they are free to roam a large zone of the park.
Throughout the 19th century in North America, bison were nearly hunted to extinction. Although small populations survived elsewhere, Banff hasn’t had any plains bison for over a century. After successful reintroductions of bison at six other national parks across Canada, including Elk Island, Grasslands, Prince Albert, Wood Buffalo, Riding Mountain, and Waterton Lakes national parks, it is now the turn of Canada's oldest national park.
The bisons’ reintroduction to Banff National Park holds many benefits for man and beast alike. The species plays a huge role in the culture and spirituality of the indigenous peoples, as well as serving as an icon of Canada’s pioneer history. The reintroduction will also change the landscape in a way that benefits the area's plants and animals.
As you can imagine, getting over a dozen of these massive beasts across the country is no small feat. The plan has been in the works for 7 years and at a cost of $6.4 million. Parks Canada has released a video documenting the process, complete with footage of them being trucked, airlifted, and then released onto the plains.
Who would have thought something so big, wild, and hairy, could be so cute?