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Prince Albert National Park of Canada

Funding for Management Strategy Approved!

Plains bison in PANP.
Plains bison in PANP.
© E.Paul / Parks Canada

A three-year proposal was submitted in 2004 to the Species at Risk Recovery Action and Education Fund (SARRAEF), administered by Parks Canada. The fund was created to contribute to the recovery of species at risk populations occurring in national protected areas and adjacent lands. The proposal, entitled “Sturgeon River Plains Bison Management Strategy”, includes three components:

  • the creation and implementation of the plains bison management strategy,
  • research on influencing bison movements, and
  • the creation and implementation of a communication strategy.

The proposal was successful, and full funding was awarded in April 2005.

The Bison Management Strategy

One purpose of the funding is to create a regional management strategy for the Sturgeon River plains bison population. This population occupies a range including the west side of Prince Albert National Park (PANP) and lands outside of the park along the Sturgeon River. The free-ranging nature of the population leads to management issues on private, provincial, and federal lands. A committee of 14 members, representing all jurisdictions, some public interest groups, and individuals from various groups living in proximity to the Park, has drafted the strategy. Recommendations in the strategy include activities that can be undertaken on private lands to reduce the impacts of bison, reducing the cost to landowners associated with the presence of bison, as well as research-based adaptive management options that could be implemented outside and within the Park to influence the movements of bison. The strategy is structured in three phases:

  • initiation and development of the strategy,
  • implementation, and
  • incorporation of management and research results into adaptive management strategies.

The Research

The purpose of the bison research is to understand and influence the movements of the herds that make up the bison population. Researchers from Laval University (QC) are using collars outfitted with Global Positioning System (GPS) units to track the movements of 10 female bison. They will first examine the relationship between bison movements and resource distribution. Then they will look at other factors that influence bison movements. Finally, they will test potential management actions in an attempt to influence bison movements. Methods shown to be effective may then be used in active management when appropriate.