Parks Canada

Parks Canada

March 16, 2011 14:00 ET

Elk Island National Park Wood Bison Ready for Trip to Sakha Republic, Russia

Government of Canada contributes to survival of an important species at risk

EDMONTON, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - March 16, 2011) - On behalf of the Honourable Peter Kent, Canada's Environment Minister and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Mr. Leon Benoit, Member of Parliament for Vegreville-Wainwright, today announced the successful completion of disease testing and quarantine for 30 young wood bison that will be provided to the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), Russia, to support the conservation of this globally at-risk animal.

"The Government of Canada is committed to the safe recovery of species at risk," said Mr. Benoit. "These animals leave Canada with a veterinary health certificate developed by both countries. Everything possible is being done to assure their safe journey and safe arrival in the Republic of Sakha."

With these precautions behind them, the bison will be loaded on a plane and flown to Russia. There they will join a small herd that has grown from 30 bison provided by Elk Island National Park in 2006 as a foundation herd to help restore the bison population in the area.

Wood bison, a species at risk classified as "threatened", were brought to Elk Island National Park in 1965 for protection and as a foundation herd to rebuild species numbers. Since that date, the Park has successfully relocated 855 wood bison to conservation programs in Alaska, Canada and Russia. Parks Canada works cooperatively with Canadian Food Inspection Agency veterinarians and Environment Canada (through the Canadian Wildlife Service) to manage the herd.

Elk Island National Park staff have unique expertise and a unique history in managing, caring for and handling bison. Facilities in the park for handling bison and elk are state-of-the-art and specially designed for these species.

"Elk Island National Park has played a key role in the conservation of both plains bison and wood bison since 1907," said Mr. Benoit. "All of Canada's plains bison and all of the international bison transfers have originated in Elk Island National Park." 

In 2011, Parks Canada celebrates 100 years since it was established as the Dominion Parks Service, the first federal agency in the world managing national parks. Today, thanks to initiatives like bison and elk conservation in Elk Island National Park, Parks Canada is a recognized leader in the conservation and preservation of natural and cultural heritage.

Our Government works to ensure Canada's historic and natural heritage is protected and, through a network of 42 national parks, 167 national historic sites, and four national marine conservation areas, invites Canadians and people around the world to engage in personal moments of inspiring discovery at our treasured natural and historic places.

For more information on Elk Island National Park, please visit

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of the Environment
    Press Secretary
    Parks Canada
    Media Relations