Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 2010


Published in Great Plains Research 20.1 (Spring 2010): 135-36.


Copyright 2010 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Used by permission.


Buffalo National Park stands as both a high and a low point in the history of the Canadian national park system. In 1908, it was created near Wainwright, Alberta, as a reserve, and soon a park, to house Plains bison being shipped from Montana; the park’s existence helped to restore the near-extinct species. The bison population grew too swiftly, in fact, leading to deteriorated range conditions and rampant tuberculosis. In a misguided attempt to alleviate this pressure, the Parks Branch in the 1920s shipped tubercular Plains bison to Wood Buffalo National Park, consequently infecting and hybridizing the purebred wood bison there. With its own range still depleted and its bison still diseased, Buffalo National Park was closed in 1939, the land turned over to the Department of National Defense.