Claydon, Saskatchewan ? The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) celebrates today the birth of a second generation of Plains Bison at Old Man on His Back Prairie Heritage and Conservation Area in southwest Saskatchewan. The 15 newborn calves are the offspring of a conservation herd of Plains Bison that were reintroduced to their natural prairie habitat at Old Man on His Back in 2003. NCC is also announcing the restoration of homestead buildings and the official opening of an interpretive centre on site, with the support of Western Economic Diversification Canada and The W. Garfield Weston Foundation.
?This new visitor centre and the surrounding conservation area will preserve our grasslands and bring economic spin offs to southwest Saskatchewan?s tourism corridor,? said David Anderson, Member of Parliament for Cypress Hills-Grasslands. ?Canada?s new Government promotes economic development that creates opportunities and builds stronger communities in all regions of the country, including Saskatchewan?s southwest.?
The new interpretive centre, located on the 13,000-acre ranch where the prairie has been preserved and where the Plains Bison roam, features displays on local wildlife and cultural heritage.
?NCC made history three years ago when we reintroduced a herd of 50 Plains Bison to its natural environment ? the same environment their ancestors roamed a century ago, before they nearly became extinct,? explains Lyle Saigeon, Regional Vice President of NCC in Saskatchewan. ?Those Bison have been thriving and have now given birth to a second generation of Plains Bison. It marks another milestone event in the history of this species and wildlife conservation in Canada.?
The first group of Plains Bison was transferred from Elk Island National Park and reintroduced to this site as part of NCC?s plan to maintain and enhance the ecological integrity of the preserve, since Bison are the natural grazers of the prairies. Once widespread on the Canadian prairies and numbering in the millions, Plains Bison were nearly eradicated from these landscapes in the 1800s. The animals reintroduced at Old Man on His Back represent the first Plains Bison conservation herd derived from the original genetic stock, now back on the Canadian prairies.
?We are delighted to be a partner with NCC to preserve the beauty and diversity of the province?s natural landscapes and to further highlight the need for their conservation,? said John Nilson, Minister of Saskatchewan Environment. ?The visitor centre at Old Man on His Back will help to bring a focus on the protection of grasslands and to pass on the conservation message to everyone who visits.?
The Old Man on His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area, one of Canada?s last remaining tracts of mixed grassland, is NCC?s flagship grasslands project. NCC secured the property in 1996 in partnership with Saskatchewan Environment and Saskatchewan Agriculture, Food and Rural Revitalization, beginning with an initial donation by Peter and Sharon Butala of their family ranch. The property offers a spectacular haven for wildlife and also has significant cultural and historic values.
A number of other generous partners have provided significant support to the protection and ongoing care and management of Old Man on His Back including The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, Nexen Inc., SaskPower, Environment Canada, the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, the Eden Foundation, Monsanto Canada, IPSCO Inc., Husky Energy Inc. and TD Friends of the Environment Foundation.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada is a national, non-profit land conservation organization that works to protect Canada?s biological diversity. Its plan of action involves partnership-building and entering into creative conservation solutions with any individual, corporation, community group, conservation organization or government body that shares its passion. Since 1962, NCC and its supporters have protected more than 765,000 hectares (1.9 million acres) of ecologically significant land nationwide. For more information on NCC visit http://www.natureconservancy.ca.
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For more information please contact:
Media and Public Relations
Nature Conservancy of Canada
(416) 932-3202 ext. 252