Plains Bison populations
Prince Albert National Park is home to one of the only free-roaming herds of Plains Bison on its historic range in Canada. Plains bison are the largest land mammals in North America; they can weigh up to 860 kg, range from 1.5 to 2 m tall, and can reach a top speed of 65 km/h. The Sturgeon River Plains Bison Herd are a keystone species, meaning that many other organisms in the ecosystem rely on them, directly relating them to the overall health of a natural grassland ecosystem.
Aerial surveys over the grasslands and forest on the west side of the park are conducted regularly. Bison are surveyed in the winter because their dark fur is easy to spot on the white snow. Surveys determine the health of the herd by collecting data on the overall population, age, and gender. Recent population estimates show a decline in the bison population. Parks Canada is working with the Sturgeon River Plains Bison Stewards to determine the causes of population decline and find methods to sustain the bison population.