Saskatoon

Wanuskewin Heritage Park welcomes 6 new bison calves

A First Nations national heritage site located in Saskatoon says the recent births of six bison calves are something to celebrate.

6 baby bison to help grow park herd to 50 in next several years

A bison calf and its mother stand in a field.
Six bison calves were born at Wanuskewin Heritage Park in 2022. (Submitted by Wanuskewin Heritage Park)

A First Nations national heritage site located in Saskatoon says the recent births of six bison calves are something to celebrate.

With the six new additions — three males and three females — the herd at Wanuskewin Heritage Park now totals 24 animals, which is more than double the number first brought there in 2019 following years-long efforts to return bison to the site.

"Nearly 40 years ago, our elders said they wanted to bring bison back in the park," said Wanuskewin CEO Darlene Brander.

"The purpose of it is to bring the community together."

The park hopes to grow the herd up to 50 over the next few years.

The North American bison population was almost completely wiped out in the 1800s. While 30 million bison once roamed the prairies, that number quickly dropped down to about 1,000  animals, due to organized hunting campaigns and disease.

The remaining bison were broken into two groups — one herd that was sent to Yellowstone National Park in the U.S. and one herd that was left in Canada.

A bison calf in a field.
A bison calf born at Wanuskewin Heritage Park in Saskatoon. (Submitted by Wanuskewin Heritage Park)

Wanuskewin's herd is made up of bison from both groups, making the new babies genetically close to their ancestors that were once seen across the prairies.

The park plans to grow its bison herd to 50 animals over the next several years.

Wanuskewin offers daily tours of the bison herd for people who visit the park. A special viewing platform has also been built for visitors.

"They've been enjoying them immensely," said Brander. "It's such a thrill and joy to see the delight in their eyes."

A bison calf and an adult in a field.
A newborn bison and an adult at Wanuskewin Heritage Park in Saskatoon. (Submitted by Wanuskewin Heritage Park)

Archeological records show that Wanuskewin has been a gathering site for First Nations people for more than 6,000 years, and features remains of ancient campsites and buffalo jumps.

The park is in the process of applying to become a UNESCO World Heritage site.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Shield is a web writer for CBC Saskatoon.

now