Government of Canada supports the survival of wood bison, an iconic and majestic animal

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by ahnationtalk on February 12, 202079 Views

From: Parks Canada

Wood bison from Elk Island National Park will help establish new herd with Woodland Cree First Nation

February 12, 2020 Elk Island National Park, AB Parks Canada Agency

As a recognized leader in conservation, Parks Canada has made lasting contributions to wildlife conservation for over a century, including the recovery of species at risk such as the wood bison.

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, announced that 14 wood bison from Elk Island National Park will be translocated to the Woodland Cree First Nation in Alberta to establish a new herd. By transferring bison to establish conservation herds across North America, the Government of Canada is contributing to the restoration and long-term survival of wood bison.

The Government of Canada is pleased to be collaborating with the Woodland Cree First Nation in Alberta on bison conservation. Bison play a key role in their ecosystems and also have great historical, cultural and spiritual significance to Indigenous peoples of the Great Plains. Parks Canada is committed to helping Indigenous peoples re-establish connections to traditional lands and waters and significant aspects of their cultures.

Supporting the relocation of bison has been an important part of Elk Island National Park’s mission for more than a century. Both the wood and plains bison herds from the park have supplied bison to national and international conservation projects. Over the past century, Elk Island has translocated nearly 3000 plains and wood bison to various partners in bison conservation, including several Indigenous groups.



“The Government of Canada is committed to the recovery of bison. The survival of bison from near-extinction is one of Canada’s conservation success stories, which has established populations of plains and wood bison across North America. This conservation initiative is an important step in ensuring bison continue to thrive for generations to come, and helps strengthen Indigenous peoples’ connections to their history and traditions.”

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson,
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

“We have an old community and hunting area called Bison Lake and our neighbour community is called Little Buffalo. Myself and others have also found buffalo skulls. So the Buffalo are a part of our identity that has been missing. To have buffalo in our area again will develop our own cultural identify back, build purpose into the community, and rejuvenate the ecosystem by bringing back more diversity to the environment. The bison will be a holistic part of our community, part of our environment, our food and our ceremony.”

Chief Isaac Laboucan-Avirom,
Woodland Cree First Nation

Quick facts

  • Founded in 1906, Elk Island National Park was established to protect one of the last big elk herds in the region and was the first wildlife refuge in Canada. As the only fully-enclosed national park and located just 35 minutes east of Edmonton, for more than a century Elk Island National Park has drawn visitors to its natural setting and abundance of wildlife viewing opportunities.
  • In 1965, Elk Island was established as a source of wood bison that are disease-free and free of introduced cattle genes for reintroduction projects nationally and internationally. Because of their long history of disease-free status, the bison in Elk Island are sought after for national and international conservation projects.
  • Over the past decade, Elk Island National Park has worked in partnership with many Indigenous communities to bring bison back to their traditional rangeland. Any Indigenous group interested in discussing a bison transfer is encouraged to contact Elk Island National Park.

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Associated links


Moira Kelly
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Media Relations
Parks Canada Agency


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