Welcome to the family!
NCC adds new bulls to the OMB plains bison herd
Bison release at Old Man on His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area (Photo by NCC)
In the winter of 2003, a group of 50 plains bison aged two years old were sorted from the plains bison herd at Elk Island National Park in central Alberta, loaded onto trailers, and driven nearly 700 kilometres southeast. Their destination? The Old Man on His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area (OMB), where plains bison had once roamed in the thousands but had almost become extirpated (locally extinct) in the early 1900s.
It had long been the late landowner Peter Butala’s dream to see plains bison return to their native grazing lands. He and his wife, Sharon, had been working with NCC to conserve the ranch and donated part of the property to NCC in 1996 with the goal of reintroducing the species to the 5,300-hectare (13,000-acre) mixed grass prairie at Old Man on His Back.
Now, close to 17 years later, the herd has become an established fixture on the prairie. Recently, NCC staff added five new bison bulls to the herd. The bulls come from three separate producers, two of which are in Saskatchewan, and the other in central Alberta. The addition of these bulls is part of NCC’s efforts to diversify the genetics of the herd to ensure that it is producing calves that are healthy.
The bulls will remain separated from the rest of the herd for approximately 30 days to ensure that they are healthy and to give them time to adjust to their new surroundings before they are turned out with the rest of the herd after our 2019 round up. While the new bulls were born and raised in Canada, the lineage for most of them trace back to the northern United States, including the bison herd at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. All five individuals were born in 2017 and are around 2.5 years of age.