Banff National Park Welcomes Baby Bison For The First Time In 140 Years

Historic baby bison birth takes place on—what else?—Earth Day.

Major birth announcement: Three baby bison were born in Canada’s Banff National Park, which is a huge deal for the park that began reintroducing bison to its protected back-country earlier this year through a major conservation project.

Making this birth story even sweeter is the fact that the first calf was born on Earth Day. Not only that, but these are the first baby bison to be born in the park in more than 140 years.

People from parks system are beaming with pride, and have posted some baby photos on Instagram. (Yes, the calf is already learning how to walk, and in the snow no less—they grow up so fast!)

“Its baby steps are part of a larger vision to reintroduce wild plain #bison to Canada’s first national park!” Parks Canada wrote.

Bison once roamed free in Banff, which is Canada’s oldest national park. But hunters pushed the animals to the brink of extinction, and free-roaming bison were absent from the landscape for more than a century, according to Parks Canada. In February, park staff successfully transferred 16 healthy bison—including several pregnant 2-year-olds—to Banff.

Wondering how a large-scale bison transfer goes down? The bison were loaded into custom-made shipping containers and transported by truck to a government-owned ranch near Banff National Park. They were then airlifted by helicopter and released into a pasture.

The bison, though absent for years, were dominant grazers who helped shape the ecosystems at Banff, according to Parks Canada. The bison, for now, are remaining in an enclosed pasture in the Panther Valley back-country of Banff, where they’re monitored by staff.