Calving season is well underway at the Beaver Creek Wood Bison Ranch. The first calf, a female, was born on April 22 and has since been joined by more than 70 furry friends. Around 100 new calves are expected to be born on site this year.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of bison roaming reclaimed land at Syncrude. A herd of 30 bison arrived from Elk Island National Park in February 1993 and since then their numbers have grown to around 300.
Over this past winter, a portion of the award-winning herd was relocated for the North Pasture to a new area known as the East Toe Berm (ETB). This move came after five years of planning, preparation and studying various areas to determine whether the land and vegetation could sustain some North America’s largest land mammal.
“This new pasture area includes grass and various species of trees which is a novelty for the bison herd,” says Ranch Manager Brad Ramstead, an employee of the Fort McKay Group of Companies. “When the calving season started it didn’t take the cows long to use the trees that they weren’t accustomed to as shelter to hide their newborn calves in.”
Although 2018 marks a quarter century of bison living happy and healthy at Syncrude, Brad says it will also be a year of firsts for the herd. He and his team are looking forward to watching them explore the new pasture, demonstrating their resilience and adaptive abilities.
Some of the animals will also be moved to Syncrude’s Wood Bison Viewpoint in early June. This area is open to the public and can be accessed by turning right off Highway 63 just south of Syncrude’s Mildred Lake site, approximately 40 minutes north of Fort McMurray.