It’s official, not only do Albertans wish to see a reintroduction of wild plains bison back into Banff National Park, but also members of the global community. On Friday, (Jan. 23) Blake Richards, Member of Parliament for Wild Rose was presented 3,000 signed postcards by members of the Bison Belong initiative at Banff’s Juniper Hotel Bistro. Bison Belong had made the postcards available for the last few years in Banff for visitors to pick up to sign and send off to show their support. The telling tale of the statistics was the demographic breakdown nearly matched and reflected the general profile of national and international visitors Banff National Park receives. Out of the 3,000 postcards, 59 per cent were from Albertans, 18 per cent fro the rest of Canada, with a sizable representation of 29 per cent presented from international visitors. “It’s a significant number of postcards to receive, no question and Bison Belong and so many people spent their time and effort to make that happen shows a real commitment amongst those people and shows the public is engage,” Richards said. “That’s why I’m happy to move forward and push for this to happen because it would be a huge plus for Banff National Park.” Richards added that Parks Canada has had public consultations with the government being engaged in the proposed initiative. “I’ve certainly done what I’ve could to see the process move forward, but obviously when I receive this many postcards it gives me the opportunity to go back to Ottawa with those postcards and make it very clear the support that’s out there,” Richards said. Bison Belong coordinator Marie-Eve Marchand officially presented the postcards to Richards at the event and was happy to see years of collecting pay off. “It’s been years of people collecting and bringing us support and telling us how much they wanted to say this and today we could,” Marchand said. “This is just part of all the numbers of Canadians, international and Banffites who want to see this happening.” Marchand added Banff Belongs spent close to three years collecting the postcards, with the group officially starting in September, 2010; close to the same time Banff National Park management plan came out saying that they wish to reintroduce the bison as an endangered species. “It was or plan all along to present them and I know that he (Richards) cares about the visitors and connecting Canadians to nature and that’s what the bison can do, bison are a very special symbols that touch your spirit,” Marchand said. “When you return the bison to where they belong, it’s connecting all of us to our past and all the other species – they’re really a keystone species of the ecosystem.” Bison Belong and Banff Ave. Brewing Co. also partnered together in 2014 to develop the Homeward Bison Pale Ale, with $1 from each individual sale going towards the bison initiative. Visit, www.bisonbelong.ca to see which Banff establishments carry Homeward Pale Ale.