Bison on the move
The Return of the Bison to Wanuskewin Heritage Park
Since they were reintroduced to Grasslands National Park in 2005, the plains bison herd thrived. High quality grasses, high birth rates, lack of disease, and virtually no predators have allowed the herd to grow. Parks Canada manages the herd to stay at an ideal size for the health of the bison as well as the prairie ecosystem in the portion of the Park in which they live.
Bison grazing is a key contributor to the health of the mixed-grass prairie ecosystem in the Park. With no predators, the number of bison increases steadily and the herd size must be managed to ensure the health of both the bison and the ecosystem. Every two years, the herd is assessed and a number of bison are removed. Animals to be removed are carefully chosen to imitate what would happen if natural predators were present, and to preserve the genetic health and social structure of the herd. Animals removed from the herd are made available to conservation organizations, Indigenous communities, zoos and display herds and research institutions.
In July 2019, Parks Canada and Wanuskewin agreed to the transfer of six adult plains bison from Grasslands National Park to Wanuskewin Heritage Park in Saskatoon. The bison arrived at Wanuskewin on December 6, 2019.
Besides Wanuskewin, in 2019, bison were also transferred from Grasslands National Park under an agreement with the University of Saskatchewan to support the Western College of Veterinary Medicine’s bison genome biobank program.
In working with organizations like Wanuskewin and the University of Saskatchewan, Parks Canada is contributing to the global survival and wellbeing of an iconic and majestic animal.