Banff, Alberta – In the heart of one of Canada’s most famous protected areas, local MP Blake Richards received close to 3,000 signed postcards showing support for Parks Canada’s effort to re-introduce wild plains bison in Banff National Park.
The postcards were gathered and presented to Mr. Richards by the Bison Belong initiative — founded by the Eleanor Luxton Historical Foundation, which is focused on the history, culture and ecology of Banff and the Bow Valley.
“Our government recognizes the value in protecting and preserving our country’s rich natural heritage,” said Mr. Richards, as he accepted the postcards. “Helping Canadians reconnect with nature is important, and as Chair of the Parliamentary Tourism Caucus, I am pleased to see this proposal receiving strong international support. Helping people develop a personal connection with nature – and the lifelong commitment that comes with it – will serve us well for years to come.”
Bill Luxton, Board chairman of the Eleanor Luxton Historical Foundation, added: “2015 is a great year to return bison to Banff National Park. We are pleased to share with MP Richards this outpouring of public support for this good news opportunity to bring bison back to where they belong.”
The postcards were signed by people from across Alberta, Canada and around the world. They reflect the general profile of visitors to Banff National Park: 59% of the signatories are Albertan, 18% from the rest of Canada and 29% from outside of Canada.
Elected officials from the town of Banff, local business owners and long-time supporters of the return of plains bison to in Banff National Park also participated in the event.
Important steps have been achieved since the approval of the Banff National Park Management plan in June 2010 where the direction for endangered species under the management strategy for healthy ecosystems explicitly mentioned reintroducing a breeding population of the extirpated plains bison. Wild bison are a keystone species that has been absent from the park since its establishment, although for many years a captive herd was kept in the park.
In January 2012, then Minister of Environment, Peter Kent, announced a public consultation on restoring wild bison to the Banff National Park landscape. After consulting with stakeholders, Parks Canada organized a pan-Canadian
public consultation on their plan to reintroduce wild bison in Banff National Park in the fall of 2013. Over 1,000 Canadians participated.
“Today’s 3,000 signed post cards are adding their voice to the thousands of Canadians who participated in the public consultations in 2013,” said Bison Belong coordinator Marie-Eve Marchand, as she presented the cards to Mr. Richards “We are excited that so many people believe that bison belong in Banff National Park.”