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Plains bison roaming free in Banff National Park for first time in decades

BANFF, Alta. — Parks Canada says wild plains bison that were reintroduced to Banff National Park are now officially free-roaming animals.

Officials say 31 bison were released into a 1,200 square-kilometre zone along the park’s eastern slopes that features meadows and grassy valleys for grazing.

The animals disappeared from the region before the national park was created in 1885.

Sixteen plains bison from Elk Island National Park were reintroduced in February 2017 into the remote Panther River Valley, about 40 kilometres north of Banff.

Ten of the females had calves last year and five of those animals gave birth again this year.

Parks Canada says it will keep a close eye on the herd through electronic monitoring and staff on the ground.

There’s also fencing in the area to keep the bison from wandering out of the park.

The Canadian Press