Syncrude Canada is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Beaver Creek Wood Bison Ranch.
On February 16, 1993, 30 wood bison arrived at Mildred Lake to assist in the research of how reclaimed land would sustain large mammals.
Former Syncrude President Jim Carter said the company first looked at using beef cattle for that job.
“When we approached the Fort McKay First Nation, they told us they would love to see bison return to the region. And the idea made so much sense. The wood bison were here 200 years ago – this area was part of their natural range that stretches down to Lac La Biche. And the Wood Buffalo National Park had anthrax outbreak at that time so our herd had the potential to be used as stock to help replenish the herds up there,” said Carter.
Jack Peden was the first ranch manager and believes he was the most fortunate guy working at Syncrude.
“It was the best program our company could have ever done. I’ve travelled all over North America and talked to so many people about it and you can see how their attitudes have changed towards industry based on what was done with the ranch.”
Now 25 years later the herd of 30 has blossomed to about 300.
Greg Fuhr, vice president, Mining and Extraction, said the herd symbolizes Syncrude’s commitment to being a responsible oilsands producer.
“The herd allows us to demonstrate that our land, that has been disturbed from our operations, has now been returned back to its original state and is able to support the large mammals from the north,” said Fuhr. “It has become very much a symbol of Syncrude, that we are extremely proud of.”
As Syncrude continues to reclaim land, Fuhr added that more is being dedicated to pasture.