On February 1, 2017, Parks Canada announced that bison were successfully transferred into Banff National Park after over 100 years of bison absence from the park. Parks Canada says, “The goal of this reintroduction is to restore a wild, free-roaming bison population to Banff National Park in a way that supports ecosystem integrity, enriches visitor experience, renews cultural connections, and enhances learning and stewardship opportunities.” Due to extreme overhunting, Banff National Park has not had bison roam the lands since 1885. In order to restore the species, Parks Canada will closely monitor the bison initially to ensure a smooth transition before letting them roam freely throughout the entire park.

 

For the important transfer of the bison to Banff National Park, Parks Canada chose to use shipping containers. Shipping containers are very effective for the Banff bison transfer process because of their cost efficiency, movability, durability, and ability to be customized. The shipping containers were customized in order to ensure safe and easy transport of the bison. Storage containers are an excellent choice for shipment of any item and can be altered to accommodate animals such as bison. Built for traveling across oceans, shipping containers can easily handle the trip from Elk Island National Park to Banff National Park.

 

The Bison Relocation Process:

  1. Parks Canada chose 16 healthy bison from Elk Island National Park.
  2. The bison were loaded into shipping containers, custom modified to safely transport bison. They were transported overnight by truck near the border of Banff National Park.
  3. The bison remained in the containers overnight where they were closely monitored by Parks Canada staff.
  4. The shipping containers were airlifted by helicopter to an enclosed pasture in Banff’s Panther Valley. Once released in the pasture, Parks Canada staff will continue to monitor the health of the herd and ensure the new arrivals have access to food and water.
  5. The bison will be kept in the soft release pasture for approximately 16 months before being released in 2018 to roam freely in the reintroduction zone within Banff National Park.
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