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Bison herd grown ten-fold on reclaimed land

PHOTO. Supplied. Syncrude.

A herd of 30 bison from Elk Island National Park has grown to be over 300 on reclaimed land at Syncrude’s Beaver Creek Wood Bison Ranch since February 1993.

Will Gibson spokesman for Syncrude said over 100 calves are born every year. A female calf kicked off the herding season on April 22, and over 70 more have been born since.

“We’re very proud to mark our 25th anniversary of the ranch, which has returned the wood bison to part of their natural range.”

Gibson said as the herd continues to grow portions are being relocated. One of the moves took five years of planning, preparing and studying various areas, making sure the land and vegetation could sustain the animals.

Over the winter some were moved to a new area known as East Toe Berm, which has grass and various species of trees.

Ranch Manager Brad Ramstead said this is a novelty for the bison herd and that as calving season started the cows quickly learned to use the trees as shelter for their newborns.

Some of the animals will also be moved to Syncrude’s Wood Bison Viewpoint in early June. The viewpoint north of Fort McMurray is open to the public.