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Focus on Wildlife Management

Elk Island National ParkThe historical records of early European explorers indicate that prior to the advance of the fur trade and later settlement by Europeans, there was an abundance of wildlife in what is now Alberta. Aboriginal Peoples were the only ones who occupied the region at that time and their population was widely dispersed. Although they used wildlife for food, clothing and shelter, because of their low numbers and nomadic lifestyles, they did not have more than a local effect on wildlife numbers and habitats.

This scene changed rapidly in the late 1800s as European settlers moved into the province with the expansion of the railroad. They brought firearms and the ability to kill many game animals in a short period of time. Unregulated hunting drove many species, such as Elk and Pronghorn, to the brink of elimination in Alberta. The Bison were eliminated from much of the province. It was not until 1907 that the Alberta government passed its first game laws to control hunting. 

Elk Island National Park

The federal government established Elk Island National Park in 1904 to protect one of the remaining herds of Elk in the province. From 1917 to 1920 over 300 Elk were transplanted from Yellowstone National Park in Montana to Waterton Lakes, Banff and Jasper National Parks. Most of the 26,000 Elk found in the province today are descendants of these transplants. The Plains Bison were likewise re-introduced into the province from the United States, but these herds were kept within the national parks.


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