Bison destroyed after wandering out of Banff National Park

One of two bison that wandered out of Banff National Park earlier this month has been destroyed.

2 bulls had left the herd, and park, earlier this month

Officials say one male bison, not pictured, has been euthanized for posing a risk to public safety after it left the reintroduction zone in Banff National Park. (Dan Rafla/Parks Canada)

One of two bison that wandered out of Banff National Park earlier this month has been destroyed.

The bulls had meandered out of the park in separate directions on Aug. 5, just one week after the herd was released into a 1,200-square-kilometre reintroduction zone in the park's backcountry.

Parks Canada said in a release that on Thursday, staff "made the difficult decision to euthanize one of the bison bulls who had continued to move eastward toward private grazing lands and was posing a risk to public safety and to the safety of livestock."

"Parks Canada staff made tremendous efforts to encourage the bison bull to return to the national park and closer to the reintroduction zone. 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," the organization said.

The wild bison are the first to roam the park's backcountry in 140 years. The $6.4-million project initially saw 16 bison released into a paddock in the remote Panther River Valley in February 2017 before being moved into a larger reintroduction zone this July.

The valley is about 40 kilometres north of the Banff townsite.

Ten of the females had calves last year and seven of those animals have given birth again this year.

31 bison remain in park, 1 outside park limits

There are 31 bison remaining in the herd inside the park, and Parks Canada said they continue to monitor the second bull that wandered outside the park's limits and has been grazing in the Red Deer Valley near Ya Ha Tinda Ranch.

"Efforts to reintroduce him to the national park are ongoing," Parks said.

Plains bison are an iconic part of Canada's history, having freely roamed in the Rockies, filling an important need for the livelihoods of First Nations people and early settlers.

They disappeared from the area due to overhunting before the national park was created in 1885.

Plains bison on provincial land aren't considered wildlife in Alberta, but are instead classified as livestock and are not protected.

With files from The Canadian Press