Ya Ha Tinda Ranch and Bighorn Campground Opening




The main gate to the Ya Ha Tinda Ranch will open on June 22, 2020 to vehicle access for day users.  The Ranch yard will remain closed to public access until further notice.  They will not be offering Ranch tours at this time and anyone entering the yard must do so with the approval of Ranch Staff.


Parks Canada has announced the opening of Federal campgrounds including Bighorn Campground on the June 22, 2020.  However, due to restrictions imposed on Friends of the Eastern Slopes, we will not be opening the Bighorn Campground until June 26, 2020 in order to allow us time to meet the restrictions imposed.

Restrictions include the following:

  1. Operate at no more than 75% occupancy with physical distancing between campsites.  The following is the recommendation from the Federal Government:

“This could be achieved by not allowing any free standing panels.  There are 30 campsites with either Stalls or Highline Poles.  This should be the maximum equestrian campsites to be used, with non-equestrian campers ensuring they are 100 feet apart from the next campsite and using existing fire circles.  No New fire circles are to be built.”

With this restriction, NO PANELS WILL BE ALLOWED

More than one unit will be allowed at each campsite

     2.       Increased cleaning of washrooms.

Washrooms will be cleaned daily on the weekends however all bathrooms are shared with other campers so please use extra effort to keep them clean and sanitized.  It is best to plan ahead and have your own facilities.

     - practice good hygiene:
     - wash your hands frequently
     -refrain from touching your face with unclean hands
     -carry and use hand sanitizer
     - Be self-sufficient.  Take in what you need

     3.       A sandwich board sign for the bathrooms to read “Closed for Cleaning” to help ensure personal distancing between campers and cleaners.

If you see the “Closed for Cleaning” signs at the bathroom, please go to a different bathroom and keep your distance

      4.      A Campground Host is to be on site to direct visitors, give information and relay to ranch staff any infractions.

We will have a Campground Host available at our usual spot at the Bighorn Campground to assist with the above requirement

      5.      A large sandwich board indicating “CAMPGROUND FULL” to be available to the Bighorn Campground Host to post when 75% capacity is reached.

We will be providing the Campground Host with 2 signs so the second one can be placed by the entry gate to the ranch so late arrivals on Friday can turn around and head directly to Eagle Creek, rather than driving all the way in to the Bighorn

Alberta non-residents are expected to follow the travel restrictions set out by the Province during this time.






Map Of FOESA Campgrounds

Map of Ya Ha Tinda

This map can be uploaded to a GPS

Big Horn recomended practices

Please take a look at these rules before leaving on your holiday. If you are using panels, please understand the reqierments or ask before setting them up.


Campground Regulations Eagle Creek/Hummingbird/CutOff Creek

Campground Regulations Panther

Horse Stall Priorty

Dear Campers and Friends of the Eastern Slopes,

We have recently received correspondence from concerned members regarding horse stall and high line stall camp sites being occupied by camping units without horses. We, the Friends of the Eastern Slopes Association, support and encourage multi use of all of our 6 campground areas. As a courtesy to the campers with horses we are asking to give priority for the stalled and high lined sites to people travelling with horses. If the campground is full and no other options exist then by all means non horse users are welcome to use stalled and high lined sites. We operate on a first come first served basis.

Thank-you for your co-operation,


Seasonal Flooding

There will be an area on the west side of the Big Horn Camp Ground that will be shut down for the month of June. This is do to seaonal flooding.

Over the next few years the campround will be expanded to the east and the seasonal area will be closed down.


The Outpost is CLOSED to Day Visitors

Special Meeting July 27, 2020


We hereby advise that there will be a Special Meeting held on July 27 to make the Past President an official position and add the two individuals that allowed their names to stand at the AGM and withdrew to allow the new persons interested in being directors to be on board.  The tentative location for this meeting will be the Innisfail legion at 7pm but due to COVID restrictions, the meeting may have to be moved to a different location.  If the meeting has to be moved we will post the new location on this page prior to the meeting date.

Campground Host




Please note that we have filled all campground host spots for 2020.  If you are interested in being a campground host, please review the requirements below and provide your name, phone number and email to us and we will consider you for next year's schedule.

We would like to bring it to the attention of the membership that Tom has retired from Campground Host at the Bighorn Campground and that we will be looking for a volunteer person/persons on a trial program for 2020 to act as a representative of FOESA as a Campground Host for Bighorn, Eagle Creek and Panther

The Volunteer person/persons should be willing to perform the following tasks when required

  1. Be a member of FOESA
  2. Provide a security check to the Board of Directors of FOESA
  3. Be aware of campers coming to the Bighorn Campground and will introduce themselves and advise the campers of their role as an FOESA representative
  4. Educate the campers of the role of FOESA and sell membership if requested
  5. Educate the campers of the guidelines for the campground and provide them with a copy of the guidelines when required  or requested
  6. Complete minor repairs and maintenance when required
  7. Advise FOESA Campground Host Committee member when there are repairs required that are above minor repairs or maintenance
  8. Make a trip to Eagle Creek daily to check to see if there are new campers at Eagle Creek and follow Bighorn procedure for introduction and education
  9. Check Panther to collect funds from payment box
  10. When approached by concerned camper, highlight the issue and take it up with the campers in question in a calm manner knowing we are not enforcement but only the campground host

More than 1 volunteer will be accepted for this 2020 trial and a calendar showing possible shifts for Campground Host/Hosts will be prepared and weeks can be chosen by the interested volunteers.  Time frame will be from May 1, 2020 to mid to end October, 2020
This will be a volunteer position with an honorarium of $250.00/week to help cover expenses.  


Please see the schedule below showing tentative weeks available

If you would like more information about this volunteer position or would like to volunteer for the position, please send your contact information to info@foesa.org.  

posted February 3, 2020

Trail Crew

We are currently looking for anybody trained in proper trail maintence. Please contact us!

Thank you for a great Banquet


We had yet another successful AGM & Banquet on
February 15th, 2020! 
We would like to express our tremendous gratitude to everyone who helped to make this event a great success.


 We would like to extend a special thanks to all those who donated and to our loyal friends and supporters who attended this event!  
We hope you had as much fun as us!


~~  Cash Sponsors  ~~

Platinum Sponsor:        RE Miller Cat Service Ltd.; Rick Martin Trucking; Alberta Trail Riders Association (ATRA);
                                                Camp Chief Hector YMCA; Edmonton Sherriff’s Posse, Gwendale Elks, Capital Pressure

Gold Sponsor:              Buddy Gustafson, Sundre Forest Products; Home Hardware, Sundre; S&S Masonry

Silver Sponsors:               Mark Crouch Backhoe Services; Brayford Trucking Ltd.; Sundre Fish & Game Association; Barb Few; Otto’s Electric; Niemeyer’s Welding & Machining, Olds, Tracy Millar

Bronze Sponsors:           Dave’s Sand & Gravel; Servus Credit Union, Innisfail; Innisfail Auction Mart;
SNL Energy Services; TNT Custom Leather, Custom Cowboy Services;
Allan Stone – Stone Art Gallery, Howell’s Excavating

~ ~   PRIZE SPONSORS   ~ ~

Blue Creek Outfitting, Stan Walchuk


Devin Dreeshen - MLA


Auto Parts Plus, Olds

Lindsay Matthews


Sundre Safety Supplies


Napa Auto Parts, Innisfail

Nita Bartholow


Cowsmopolitan, Didsbury


Riverstone Veterinary Services, Sundre

Jason Nixon


Piro's Restaurant, Sundre


Forest Heights Golf Course

Double T Equine First Aid


Fountain Tire, Sundre


Advanced Telecom, Sundre

Kevlar Canine/Equine Health


Olds Auction Mart


Dougan's Farm & Feed, Sundre

         & Safety-KCE


Mountain View Dodge, Olds


Kodiak Catering, Sundre

Eau Claire Distributors


RPM Automotive, Sundre


Westview Coop, Eagle Hill

Murray & Karen Hagel


Original T's, Sundre


Bumper to Bumper, Sundre

Friedt Flowers & Veggies, Rita Wilton


ATB Financial, Sundre


Massage by Danielle, Innisfail

Innisfail Dodge Jeep Ram


Outwest Car Wash, Sundre


Larry Frischke / Solvet

Happy Hoof Inc.


Murf's Outdoor Equipment


Coaston Ranch

Scott Phillips - Amazing Horse Country


ACE Hardware, Sundre


Dave & Anne Fraser

Karen Courtney


Mountain View Inn, Sundre


Beaver Creek Mercantile

Red Lady Equine Therapy


Rocky Mountain Equipment, Olds


Stone Heart Distillery

Prairie Prints


Home Hardware, Sundre


Susan Rath

Barry & Mary Thomson


Leo's Castle Building, Olds


Frayed Knot - CJ Moye

Rayanne Alm


Checker Auto Parts, Didsbury


Chris & Gord Studer

Suzanne Comfort


Mountain's Edge, Sundre


Darcy & Corinne Alm

Arlene Stevenson


Trackside Sales & Service, Olds


Viking Home Hardware Building Centre

Barks N Bows, Christine Morris


Fountain Tire, Olds


Smart's, Sundre

OK Tire, Innisfail


Bumper to Bumper, Cremona


Poplar Grove Veterinary Services Ltd.

Kal Tire, Innisfail


West Country Sports, Sundre


Innisfail Veterinary Services

Palliser Chev, Innisfail


Integrity RV, Olds


Lammle's Western Wear

Please accept our sincerest apology if we have inadvertently missed any of sponsors, we appreciate your support!







Thank You!

On behalf of the Friends of the Eastern Slopes Committee, we would like to thank you for your contribution to the 2019 Horse Poker Rally held August 17th at the Ya Ha Tinda.  This event could not have been a success without the support from the participants, sponsors, 50/50 buyers and the live auction bidders, and lastly the help from the many volunteers who donated their time.
Special Thanks to our Sponsors:
• Shell Canada • Mountain View Credit Union, Sundre • KadTek Automation Inc. • Fountain Tire, Sundre • Alberta Trail Riders Association • Central Alberta Co-op • Integrity RV (Olds) Ltd. • Brisco Wood Preservers • Oil City Energy Services Ltd. • GMH Livestock Services • Dougan’s Farm & Feed Supply • Sunset Guiding & Outfitting • Fortis AB – Jason Manke • Millard Trucking Ltd. • Stewart Graham • Dave & Anne Fraser • Solvet (Larry Frischke) • Chelsey Jensen • Beaver Creek Mercantile     Special Thanks to our Volunteers: 
• Duane Papke • Suzanne Comfort • Linus Clark • Ted & Wanda Malka • Murray & Karen Hagel • Emile George • Larry Frischke • Edward & Laura Lynn Borsje & family • Shari Leedahl • Hans & Glenda VanVlaanderen • Stewart & Carolyn Graham • Gerald Olson • Rayanne Alm • Dale Marshall • Mike & Arlene Stevenson • Keven & Jamie Graham • Dale Marshall & Marni Moore • Graham Overguard • Tom Davidson • Tracy Millar • Kristy Willick • Dawn Knoedel • Dave & Anne Fraser • Lorn & Gloria Anderson • Laurel Reid • Kathy Schiewe • Gord & Michelle Breum • Kevin & Sue Brayford
We make every effort to make sure we thank everyone involved, however if we have inadvertently missed anyone, please accept our Sincerest apologies

Thank you to the Sundre Trappers!

Because I love my Dog



MEET GRIZ!  Griz is a lovely combination of black/chocolate lab and golden retriever. My husband and I named him based on his coloring which echoes the rich brown of a grizzly bear. It wasn’t until after we took him along with us riding and we started loudly calling commands, “Griz-Heel!” “Griz-Come here!” “Griz-Don’t do that!” that we realized the humor in the wild name we had given our domesticated animal. Oops!
I love my dog and I love riding so it is only natural that I combine these two things that I get so much enjoyment from. However, last week when we were in the field, a band of coyotes noticed Griz and they tried to surround him. His recall was good so I was able to call him back. It took a few minutes but all was good and we were able to ride home safely.
Luckily this incident transpired at home, within our safe boundaries. However, would this have ended differently if it happened at Yahatinda, Hummingbird, or any of the other places I love to go riding? This raised the question of whether or not I should bring Griz with me when I head out on my riding adventures. This is a tough decision for me. On one hand I know how much he absolutely loves to come riding with me at home so I would feel bad to leave him behind, even though we have a house sitter or he would go to my son’s place. On the other hand I could bring him because I have a gate and can make a nice kennel for him in the back of my trailer. He would have lots of fresh air, food and water and he would be fine.  If I were to bring him I would want him to come on the trails with me and what’s wrong with that? He could run in and out of the bush, just like at home, and enjoy the beautiful scenery and all that this new environment has to offer. However, there are more elements to consider when we are away from home. There is wildlife out there. I have seen them and they are beautiful but what if he runs into a bear and it chases him back to us on the trail? Or what if he sees a deer and chases it over the falls? I have heard of this happening as recently as a few weeks ago and I would feel terrible if my dog was responsible for scaring another animal to death.


Let’s take this one step further, what if Griz went into the bush and never came back? He is well trained, however, new and exciting things might distract him and cause him to loose his sense of direction and unintentionally cause him to not come back home- he could be lost forever.


I can’t bear (pun intended) the thought of my Griz lost in the bush feeling so scared and having to fight the elements of nature on his own like Gracie did. What if he wasn’t so lucky?
So if I choose to bring Griz and he stays in the trailer we can play and have fun after our ride. It’s a great option but, what do I do when I am busy in the camp visiting, making supper, or playing with the grandkids? Undoubtedly he will want to wander to the next camp or dig large holes trying to get to the gophers or go exploring. What will the neighbours think? I’m sure they will welcome him with arms wide open and love him as much as I do! No, I don’t think they will. I think it is more likely that they will say “Who’s frickin’ dog is this?” And they have every right to this objection.
The guidelines state: “Dogs are the responsibility of the owners and the owner will be held accountable in the event that they create an accident. Consequently, they are expected to be under full control at all times, or on a leash. Note that Provincial and Federal Park legislation requires a leash or confinement. Fines may be issued.”
Let’s break this down.
“Dogs are the responsibility of the owners and the owner will be held accountable in the event that they create an accident.”
So, if my dog were to jump out of the bush, whether it be on the trail or in the campground, and scare a horse, which causes someone to fall and get hurt, I could be sued. If my dog were to scare a horse that is tied in its camp and cause the horse to become injured, legal action could be taken. If kids were riding by and my dog were to cause one of them to fall from their horse and get hurt, I could be legally responsible. If any of these scenarios were to come to pass, it would be devastating to me, not just legally or financially but morally, and I would not forgive myself- and all of this because I love my dog.
Next, “...Dogs are expected to be under full control at all times or on a leash. Note that Provincial and Federal park legislation requires a leash or confinement. Fines may be issued.”
What does under full control actually mean? When riding the trails, your dog should be in front, behind, or directly beside you at all times. They should not be in and out of the bush where they can bring out unwanted wildlife and/or spook oncoming horses. Same applies if you are hiking. When I hike with Griz I like to keep him on a 25 foot leash so I am certain he can’t run off after something. In camp they should be within the boundary of your camp only and not wandering the campsite or popping out from behind a bush or vehicle to see who is coming down the road. These expectations create a safe environment for everyone.


Above right I have Griz on a 25ft rope in order to make sure he stays within the boundaries I have given him.

Above left two dogs are highline while their owners are in camp to allow them to move to see their owners and get food water and shade.


So, in the end, we all have to weigh the pros and cons for ourselves as to whether or not we will bring our dog to ride in the great outdoors with us.  If your choice is to bring your dog with you, below you will find some training tips from Tyson Hainsworth, Dog Trainer and owner of Dog Squad.


Bringing a dog with you riding in the back country can make for a really fun outing so long as your dog is trained well. A good rule of thumb is to pretend that no one likes your dog and your dog is an inconvenience to anyone else out there. Keep your dog to yourself and away from other riders and horses unless they ask to engage your dog and you choose to allow them. Your dog should have near perfect recall in which you can instruct them not to chase any wildlife. Any of the times we have been out riding we found everyone's dogs to be very well behaved. Many of these dogs are coming from farms and understand the rules already.

If your dog is not so well trained there are some things you can do to get your dog ready and well behaved. It would take me a couple hours to go into full detail on everything but here are some quick tips.
1. Long line recall - This is how you start a dog with recall training. Use a 50 foot rope and a harness on the dog where you can connect onto the chest of the dog. Hooking onto the chest helps to spin the dog back toward you if they are running after something. Hooking onto the back of a harness means they can pull you really hard. You then say your dog's name and a command you want that will mean to follow you. We often use "this way" (come will mean sit in front of you). Start in low distractions. As your dog turns to follow you 3 times quickly that means they understand at that level. You are then ready to progress to a higher level of distraction.

Key tip: Just because the dog can recall with no distraction does not mean they will recall in all situations. This is why many people yell at their dog. They think the dog is being stubborn when usually they have not been trained in that distraction. No need to yell commands when they are well trained. In order to know if you can call a dog off a distraction, you have to practice with that distraction. So you try your best to find all kinds of distractions to practice with your long line. This would include horses, other dogs and any wildlife you can practice with off to the side.
2. Respect - Once you have practiced with your long line around a distraction the dog will either be good and respect your command or they won't. You essentially have 2 options from there:
1. Become more exciting than the distraction. Have a favorite toy, some reward trainers have high value treats. Maybe a dog likes your attention better than anything else. Herding and Retrieving dogs have some of the higher desire to please so they do better. If your dog doesn't have much desire to please then you are pretty well left with the second option:
2. Consequence - Have a consequence for not listening. We call this Bank Robber Principle. If they all of a sudden told you there was no consequence for robbing a bank you may think, "I could walk into any bank, get $10 million dollars, buy a yacht or whatever I want?" I would say most people would choose that option. But the option of getting shot or sent to jail is a pretty terrible option. That is why there is consequence for robbing the bank. So try as you might to be the best thing out there, some dogs just like chasing animals or running after the scent of an animal better. For this you add consequence. Remote training collars have come a long ways since they first came out. They used to be full blast or nothing. I was actually going to make a video showing why people should never use them and thought I better research the subject. Then we came across some trainers that used them in a way that never hurt or terrified the dogs and got amazing results. We now use this for Bank Robber Principle in regards to recall if a person cannot be better than a distraction and still want their dog to have a really good quality life such as riding with them in the back country.
I would suggest seeking the help of a knowledgeable trainer for this but here are some of the quick tips:
1. Get a collar with 100 levels so it can be very finely tuned. 10 levels or less often jumps the consequence too high at each level for many dogs. Dogtra is a brand we use however there are others out there. You also want waterproof and rechargeable battery otherwise you will spend a small fortune on batteries.
2. Put it on the dog for 5 days before using it, take it off at night time. You want the dog to learn this is a regular collar and has nothing to do with any correction. You want to get to the point you no longer need to use this. Associate this collar to the things your dog likes so they enjoy having the collar put on.
3. Put it on the left or right side of the neck. That is where the big muscle groups are so it can twitch the muscle. You want to twitch the muscle, not fry the dog.
4. On day 5 you will turn the collar on and take the dog to a quiet spot with some good smells. Start at level 2, press nick and then go up 2 at a time. What you are looking for is the dog may look up, around, shake their head or rub by their neck. You are not looking for a yelp or cry or terrified running away. The dog needs to learn cause and effect at a low level so they can process what is going on without terrifying the dog.
5. With your long line if you say "this way" and the dog doesn't respond right away you press the nick at the level you found to get their attention and then tug the rope to make them come back to you. With repetition the dog will learn they all mean the same thing. The key to not terrifying the dog is to use the rope. Otherwise most people will use a really high level in hopes that it hurts enough the dog runs back toward you. This can cause a whole host or problems.

As they listen you can then jump to a higher level of distraction. Just practice with your rope saying "this way" and tug. See how the dog does. If they choose to ignore you can then use the remote collar. The key is to use the rope with the remote.
6. Management - Once the dog listens like a dream around all distractions and you haven't pressed the button in a few days you want to keep the collar on for a good 2-3 months after to ensure the habit is set. If they make a mistake it resets to Day 1. Many people think the dog has learned, take the collar off and then the dog doesn't listen. They put the collar on and quickly the dog becomes "collar smart" and learns to only listen when it is on. You want to get to the point you no longer need the collar for the dog. The key is keeping it on a few months after which you no longer seem to need it.
Important Tip: The rope is what trains recall, the remote collar is the consequence. You use the rope by itself around a distraction to give the dog a chance to be exposed to the distraction and learn to listen to you. The rope ensures the dog cannot get this wrong. As they have seen the distraction enough they will either listen or they won't. If they won't and you cannot become more exciting than the distraction then the remote collar puts enough consequence on chasing the distraction.

Used properly it can be an excellent training tool and give you that final polish on your training to have an extremely well trained dog. Your dog's quality of life will go way up because you trust your dog and you can take them more places. Otherwise they will fall into a very large category of poorly trained dogs these days that are stuck at home bored out of their mind.


Training is broken into 3 components:
1. Commands - This is the easy part. A dog will learn their commands very quickly in no distractions. This shouldn't take more than 3 days for almost any command to be learned.
2. Distractions and Distance - This is the biggest area of training. The dog needs a chance to be exposed to the distraction and learn to listen. The long line is a great too for training here.
3. Respect - Finally the dog will either respect your command and listen or they won't. If they don't then you add the right amount of consequence and they quickly default to good behaviour because you have already taught them what is expected of them, they just think there is no downside to not listening to you.
This is a very simplified version. If you have any questions you are welcome to contact us and schedule training. We have helped many people achieve their dream dog so they can take them to the back country with full control. So if you need any help with a happy dog that is very well behaved let us know.

 Tyler Hainsworth


Stakeholder Update


Parks Canada is pleased to announce that the Banff plains bison herd is now officially free roaming. On July 29, 2018, Parks Canada released 31 wild plains bison into the backcountry of Banff National Park. After being absent from Banff National Park for well over a century, the return of wild plains bison as free-roaming animals is a historic and cultural triumph.

·        For the next three years, Parks Canada will closely monitor the bison as they explore their new home within a 1,200 km2 reintroduction zone in the remote eastern slopes of Banff National Park. Here they will interact with other native species, forage for food, and begin to fulfill their missing role in the ecosystem. At the conclusion of the reintroduction pilot project in 2022, Parks Canada will evaluate the success of the project to determine if long-term bison restoration is feasible in Canada’s first national park.

  • ·        Reintroducing plains bison to Banff National Park is an exciting and adaptive process. We ask for understanding, collaboration and patience from the public and our valued stakeholders as we work towards a long-term vision of restoring North America’s largest land mammal to Canada’s first national park.
  • ·        A temporary closure of the Panther and Dormer Valleys is in effect as of July 25, 2018, until spring 2019, to prevent the animals from being accidentally pressured by a member of the public in the early stages of the animals being free roaming. Visit our website for more information regarding current closures and warnings: https://www.pc.gc.ca/apps/scond/rec_rep_e.asp?opark=100092

    ·        It is important to note that bison may be encountered within or beyond the reintroduction zone. If you encounter bison:
    o        Maintain a safe distance of 100 metres from bison when traveling by foot or by horseback.
    o        Use binoculars or a telephoto lens to get a closer look.
    o        If you encounter bison, do not approach.  Choose an alternate route. Watch their movements and give them space (100 metres).
    o        If a bison approaches you, remain calm and do not run. Back away slowly and try to maintain a physical barrier, such as a tree, between you and the animal.
    o        Be especially wary of female bison with young calves (spring) and male bison during rutting season (July/August).
    o        Dogs must be on leash and under control at all times.
    o        Respect all warnings, area closures, and travel restrictions.


  • ·        Read our bison blog: parkscanada.gc.ca/banff-bison
  • ·        Follow us on social media: @BanffNP on Twitter and Facebook
  • ·        Watch our YouTube webseries: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLOe6XX2wBaiZ0fwPsEcTDIECXkchMf2bF
  • ·        Learn more: attend a fun interpretive program in the Banff townsite and day-use areas. Visit Parkscanada.gc.ca/banff-interpretation or visit our interactive bison exhibit at the Banff Park Museum (July – October 2018).

    ·        Contact Caroline Hedin, Bison Outreach Officer (403)431.1016 or banff.bison@pc.gc.ca.

Spring Bison update

Hi everyone,


I trust each of you is coping with all the restrictions as best as can be expected and that you and your loved ones are well. I understand that many stakeholders and collaborators are experiencing significant challenges due to the evolving situation with COVID-19; my thoughts are with everyone who has been impacted by this global challenge. Details on how Parks Canada is addressing the situation can be found here: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en


I thought you might enjoy some non-Covid19 news. Here is a short update from the Banff National Park Bison Reintroduction Project:


  • Twenty months have passed since we released our small herd of bison into the backcountry of Banff National Park;  
  • All but one animal has survived so far; a 3-month old calf born went missing from it’s mother’s side late last fall and died of natural causes. Neither it nor its mother was radio collared so we don’t know exactly what happened or the exact timing;
  • All other animals are healthy and have subsisted only on natural forage (we have not fed them since we released them); 
  • There are now 35 animals in Banff Park and another crop of new calves is expected soon. The math is as follows: we brought in 10 young cows and 6 young bulls from Elk Island National Park in 2017; all 10 of the young cows gave birth to calves in 2017 and again in 2018 (added 20 animals); two of the bulls dispersed from the area soon after we released them (Aug 2018) and another bull dispersed a year later (August 2019) (all 3 were recaptured but moved to other populations or put down); 3 calves were born in 2019, of which one died of natural causes;
  • The main herd (mostly cows and young) continues to use meadows, grassy mountain slopes, and previously burned forests in the Panther and Red Deer drainages of Banff National Park. They have been spending their summers high on grassy slopes and ridges and the fall/winter/spring moving between meadow systems in the valley bottoms. Only a few movements have occurred outside of the 1200km2 reintroduction zone, all of which have been quickly resolved with gentle herding on foot, horse or by helicopter. All movements have been within 30km of the soft release pasture where the animals were held for the initial 1.5 years (southernmost locations in maps below). 
  • The bison continue to interact with wolves and grizzly bears but no predation has occurred yet (see attached video sequences of bison interacting with wolves from remote cameras);
  • Two of our drift fences near the eastern boundary of the reintroduction zone and the Park (along the Red Deer and Panther rivers) continue to be important tools; the bison have interacted with these fences between 1 and 12 times, depending on the individual. Remote cameras, GPS collar information and direct observations confirm the fences are working well to deflect bison while still allowing for the free passage of other wildlife.    
  • Of the 14 adults originally fitted with radio collars in early 2018, only 1 remains on a cow. We have since recaptured 3 other cows and fitted them with new collars. Our goal is to have at least 10% of the population collared for the next few years. Most of the original collars ripped off where we inserted an after-market cotton spacer. We have since stopped this practice;
  • No bison-related closures or restrictions are in place for the reintroduction zone but visitation to the Park is not supported during Covid restrictions.


I hope you enjoy the maps and photos below. It continues to be very rewarding to see the animals back in the wild after an absence of 140+ years. 


For more photos, videos and stories, please visit our website at www.pc.gc.ca/banff-bison.


Thanks for your interest and support as we explore the feasibility of longer term restoration of bison to this landscape. Please contact me if you have any questions or would like a copy of the 2019 progress report, which should be available in a few weeks.



Karsten Heuer

Bison Reintroduction Project Manager, Banff Nan since their release (July 2018 to December 2019), not including three dispersing bulls.



Above photo: Some of the main herd in the Red Deer Valley in late August 2019 (photo: K. Heuer).




Above photo: 34 bison in Red Deer Valley, March 2019; a lone bull was in the nearby Panther Valley at the time (photo: K. Heuer)



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