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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Banff Park Officials in Canada are seriously considering rewilding the Park with 30 to 50 Plains Bison....................As we all know, Plains bison were historically the most dominant ungulate found in the valleys of the eastern Rockies.................. But like the rest of North America, the presence of plains bison in the Rockies ended in the mid-1800s with the near extinction of the continent's largest land mammal.....................The 5 year reintroduction plan is now open for Public comments through November and based on this evaluation, next steps will be decided upon..................Will Wolves have another ungulate to "dance" with in the near future up north????????????????

Draft bison reintroduction plan released

Parks Canada has released its draft plan to restore plains bison to the Rocky Mountains of Banff and the federal agency is now seeking comments from the public to ensure all potential effects are considered and addressed well before any bison are released.

Plains bison were historically the most dominant ungulate found in the valleys of the eastern Rockies. But like the rest of North America, the presence of plains bison in the Rockies ended in the mid-1800s with the near extinction of the continent's largest land mammal.

In the 2010 Banff National Park Management Plan, Parks Canada committed to reintroduce a breeding herd of plains bison and to work with stakeholders and the public to address concerns.Parks Canada announced it would move forward with the project in January 2012.
The public comment process opened Monday (Sept. 9) with the release of the draft Plan for Reintroduction of Plains Bison in Banff National Park.

The federal agency has already met with the Province of Alberta, local municipalities, experts and other organizations with a stake in bison restoration or the national parks, to begin addressing potential concerns or challenges.

Bill Hunt, manager of resource conservation for the Banff Field Unit, said Tuesday (Sept. 10) feedback from stakeholders has been used to refine the plan that is now being presented to Canadians.Hunt cautioned that even though the 14-page draft plan provides specific details on how the five-year reversible pilot project could work, it is not complete. "This is not a done deal," said Hunt. "This is draft plan. It's a very much a conceptual plan. There's a lot of detailed planning that would have to go into this if it is approved. We're really looking for our partners, stakeholders and Canadians at large to really speak up and let us know what's good about it, where they think we're completely missing something and do they have any ideas about how we can do this better.

"Our goal was to paint a fairly detailed picture of what this would look like in a five-year reversible pilot project."I hope people won't see this level of detail and think, 'it's going ahead whether we want it or not.' It's definitely not there."Hunt said Parks Canada would further refine the plan once the public process closes Nov. 1.

The plan discusses other key concerns and benefits of the bison reintroduction proposal, some of which include citizen engagement, ecological restoration, visitor access, public safety, bison health and disease management.

According to the draft plan, Parks is currently considering reintroducing 30 to 50 yearling and two-year-old plains bison, mostly females, to the Panther-Dormer River area in the eastern edge of Banff National Park. Young bison are the preferable choice as they are more adaptable to new surroundings. Hunt said good habitat with fresh, green grass would help encourage the animals to remain in the Panther Valley. Small-scale prescribed burns in four of the five years of the pilot project would ensure the habitat is at its best.

"The primary goal is to keep enough good habitat and the population size small enough and do a bit of burning to really entice the bison to stay where you want them," he said.Prior to the five-year project, Parks will document pre-fence wildlife movement in the area as part of the fence permeability assessment, which will include fence testing.Ensuring the fences do not impede movement of other wildlife is a key component of the project, Hunt said. The plan proposes a total of 21 km of wire fence in small sections and a single six-km-long drift (a barrier of dead fall and natural materials) through out the 425 square km core zone and the possible expansion zones. The proposed expansion zones include the Red Deer and Cascade valleys and the Fairholme Bench north of the Trans-Canada Highway. The plan does not propose bison be allowed access to areas south of the TCH or along the Bow Valley Parkway given the vicinity of the CP Rail tracks.

"When we put in test fencing we are going to monitor it very closely and make sure its not impacting elk or sheep, preventing them from moving back and forth," Hunt said.
The bison are scheduled to arrive in the second year of the pilot project, which could be the winter of 2014-15 at the earliest, but it is more likely that the bison would arrive the following winter, Hunt said.He added, however, the priority is getting the plan right – and part of that is ensuring the public has its say and that the comments help refine the plan – and not the timeline. "We'll only get one crack at this and we need to make sure we have done everything we can to be successful, so I'm not as worried of the timeline as I am about bringing people along and making sure we understand their concerns and making sure we've addressed them as well as possible and have an adaptive approach and make it better as we can as we go," said Hunt."I'm working hard to resist pressure to do this quickly. We want to do it right."

Following the public comment period, Hunt said Parks will further refine the plan and then produce a detailed reintroduction action plan and undertake an environment impact analysis of that plan.Along with fencing and wildlife monitoring, Year 1 would see the soft-release paddock built. The plan indicates small-scale prescribed burning and some of the public education and outreach would also occur in the first year. Prescribed fires would occur in Years 2-4, as well.
Year 2 of the project will see disease-free bison, ear-tagged and collared, brought from Elk Island National Park to Banff in mid-winter. In spring, bison will be allowed to leave the paddock and roam in the core release area. Monitoring of the herd will begin at this point. The full outreach and education program will be launched, as well.

Banff Wolves might once again "dance" with Bison

In Year 3, Parks will continue to monitor the bison and evaluate fencing for effectiveness and wildlife permeability. Bison may be allowed to move into the Red Deer and/or Cascade expansion areas. Year 4 will look similar to Year 3, along with intensive monitoring of all aspects of the pilot project, including ecological and stakeholder affects, visitor experience, management, habitat use and bison-human conflicts and excursions outside of the park.
Year 5 will see Parks Canada evaluate all monitoring to develop a final report with recommendations. The report will be open for public review.

Hunt said that final review would tell Parks if the project needs to scale down or expand the project or to "pack up and go home." Marie-Eve Marchand Bison Belong in Banff National Park, an outreach organization of the Eleanor Luxton Heritage Foundation, said Monday (Sept. 10) said Parks Canada has presented a good, workable plan. "It does respect the conversations held over a year and a half. It is really amazing to see that. It's a good five-year plan and what is really nice it is the first five-year plans with a goal of really wild and free bison in Banff and we have a plan and a goal to make it happen," said Marchand.

Marchand added that she applauds Parks Canada for its approach in both crafting a confident and optimistic plan to reintroduce bison to Banff National Park, for thoughtfully addressing concerns and for listening to stakeholders."It seems to be the right approach. It really seems like they have listened, but they haven't been scared of their own project. They've listened, but they moving forward with confidence," she said. "They are one of the best park managers in the world: so if parks Canada can't do it, there's no one."

The draft Plan for Reintroduction of Plains Bison in Banff National Park is available online at Comments can be emailed to or by calling 403-760-1342

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