Over a century of bison conservation in Elk Island National Park
The survival of bison in Canada and their rescue from near-extinction is one of Parks Canada’s greatest success stories. Today, Elk Island National Park continues to be a significant contributor to bison conservation in Canada, and the park’s disease-free bison continue to contribute to populations of plains and wood bison all across North America.
Bison are North America’s largest land mammal. Once, millions of them ranged across the continent from Alaska to Mexico. Bison were an amazing resource for the First Nations people who lived on the plains. However, within a single human lifetime, bison in North America were hunted from the tens of millions to less than a thousand individuals scattered across the continent.
When almost all hope for bison seemed lost, a few people saved the species from extinction. The Canadian government purchased one of the last herds of bison and between 1907 and 1912 shipped over 700 wild bison by train to Elk Island National Park. Bison have found a protected sanctuary at Elk Island for over a hundred years.