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Cultural and Ecological Perspectives of Bison in Alberta

2021-03-24 @ 12:00 13:00 MDT

Join us for lunchtime talk of three interesting presentations by Bill Snow, Wes Olson, and Dillon Watt. Bill Snow will be presenting a talk and a short film on the cultural perspective on the bison reintroduction in Banff National Park. Dillon Watt will be presenting on bringing bison back to Banff National Park,and Wes Olson will be presenting on the ecological buffalo: following the trail of a keystone species.

Bill Snow, Consultation Manager, Stoney Nakoda First Nation

Title: Cultural Perspective on the Bison Reintroduction

Abstract: The Bison Reintroduction in Banff National Park, represents over 140 years exclusion of Bison in mountain landscapes. While there are many environmental benefits to having Bison on landscapes, there are also cultural impacts to the Bison Reintroduction project. Bill Snow, a Consultation Manager, will cover the cultural and ceremonies that have been conducted in relation to the Bison Reintroduction since 2015, and will discuss the historical and current importance that Bison have in Stoney Nakoda culture. A short film of place names in the Canmore and Banff area will also include the scenery of the Bison herd at Stoney Indian Park, on the Stoney Indian Reserve.

Bill Snow (Stoney Nakoda / Yuma Quechan) is a Consultation Manager with Stoney Tribal Administration, as well as a Director at Large for the Canadian Wildlife Federation. Bill has coordinated ceremonies for the Bison Reintroduction since 2014, and will be conducting a cultural study on the Bison Reintroduction area in 2020, as part of the Canadian Mountain Network initiative. Bill Snow is a member of the Wesley First Nation, of the Stoney Nakoda Nation, as well as a Dual Citizen of Canada / United States of America.

Dillon Watt, Resource Conservation Officer, Parks Canada

Title: Bringing Bison Back to Banff National Park

Abstract: In February 2017, Parks Canada began a 5-year pilot project to reintroduce North America’s largest land mammal (bison) to Canada’s first national park (Banff). Dillon will summarize the project and provide some behind-the-scenes stories of the effort to restore this iconic animal to a place where it’s been missing for 140+ years. 

Dillon Watt is a Resource Management Officer in Banff National Park, and a member of the plains bison reintroduction team. Of Dillon’s 16-year career with Parks Canada in Banff, the past five and a half years have been dedicated to the bison reintroduction effort.

Wes Olson, Author, Elk Island National Park (Retired)

Title: The Ecological Buffalo: Following the Trail of a Keystone Species

Abstract: For more than 130,000years bison have roamed the ecosystems of North America, and while doing so, have influenced the lives of every other species they shared space and time with. This presentation looks at some of the intricate, and often unexpected relationships bison have with these species across their former range, with an emphasis on the northern mixed-grass prairie. Reintroducing bison populations to areas of their former historic range re-establishes that relationships and improves ecological diversity.

Wes Olson was raised in the rugged foothills of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains. There, on family camping, hunting and fishing trips he began a life-long association with wild places and wildlife that live in them. Following graduation from college Wes worked for several years as a Wildlife Technician for the Yukon Government, and in 1981, began a career with Parks Canada as a National Park Warden in Banff, and later in Waterton Lakes, Elk Island, Prince Albert and Grasslands National Park in southern Saskatchewan. For over two decades Wes managed the plains and wood bison populations in Elk Island National Park, and participated in the translocation and establishment of almost every free-roaming plains and wood bison population in Canada. Wes retired in 2012 and rather than stop working with bison, established his own bison consulting company and continues to work in the field of bison conservation. Wes’s passion for bison spills over into his creative side and he and his wife Johane have written the books, “Portraits of the Bison; An Illustrated Guide to Bison Society”, and “A Field Guide to Plains Bison.” These captivating books take the reader through bison society with rich illustrations, photographs and descriptive text.

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PO BOX 4990
Edmonton AB
T6E 5G8

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