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Go west young families for a thundering good time

Photo credit one: Stephen Edgerton
Photo credit two: Parks Canada

(NC) Western Canada is calling your name for an experience your kids will never forget—the chance to see the iconic bison, or buffalo, the very symbol of the Wild West, thundering across the prairie grasslands. The bison are back on the Canadian Prairies after aggressive efforts to restore the herds after near extinction 100 years ago.

Visiting one of their natural habitats in Alberta, Saskatchewan or Manitoba national parks, where bison now roam, is sure to delight the entire family.

Consider visiting Elk Island National Park near Edmonton, the source herd from which nearly every plains bison in southern Canada can trace its ancestry; or Prince Albert National Park north of Saskatoon or Grasslands National Park in southern Saskatchewan—each of these parks features large herds of bison. Smaller herds can also be seen at Riding Mountain and Waterton Lakes national parks.

July through September is mating season so who knows what shenanigans these enormous mammals will be up to. Watch the bulls compete for the cows and display a variety of behaviours to impress the cows and intimidate each other.

During the “rut” the bulls are more aggressive and less cautious of vehicles and people. Watch and listen for behaviours including wallowing, head pushing and bellowing. Allowing this bison behaviour to carry on undisturbed is important to ensure its natural life cycle is maintained in the park.

Parks Canada is working to enhance bison habitat, improve bison viewing and visitor experiences in Elk Island and Prince Albert national parks and promote understanding of Parks Canada's role in bison conservation.

So slip on your cowboy boots, tighten your belt buckle and tip your Stetson for a thundering good time watching these ancient herbivores in their natural setting. You can find safety tips and planning information on the Parks Canada website at www.parks.gc.ca.

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