BANFF – One of the two bison bulls that wandered outside Banff National Park at the beginning of the month has been killed by Parks Canada.
In an update from Parks Canada late Friday (Aug. 17), the federal agency announced one of the two bulls had continued to move eastward toward private grazing lands and was posing a risk to public safety and livestock.
As a result, on Thursday (Aug. 16) Parks Canada decided to "euthanize" the bull.
"Parks Canada staff made tremendous efforts to encourage the bison bull to return to the national park and closer to the reintroduction zone," stated the update. "The decision to euthanize the bull was taken only after every other possible solution was tried or examined by highly trained, professional, and dedicated Parks Canada staff who are committed to conservation and the protection of species like bison.
"Public safety is a priority for Parks Canada and this decision was made in order to protect the public and to uphold commitments made to the Province of Alberta and other stakeholders as part of the reintroduction project."
The bull was part of a $6.4 million reintroduction project to bring plains bison back to the wild. The species is considered extirpated in Alberta and the herd is only one of three roaming free in North America. Parks officially released the herd of 33 into a 1,200 square kilometre reintroduction zone in the Panther Valley on July 29.
The second bison bull to leave the park boundaries is being monitored and "fortunately his movements are not posing a risk to public safety, or to the safety of livestock," according to Parks.
"Efforts to reintroduce him to the national park are ongoing. The remaining 32 bison have stayed within the heart of the reintroduction zone in Banff National Park’s backcountry where they have continued to successfully adapt to their new home."