|Endangered Species of Canada Stories by the Edmonton Journal, December 1999
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A GUIDE TO WILDLIFE AT RISK
The Committee on the Status of Endangered Species, a federal advisory group, has created a list of 340 animals and plants that are in some jeopardy. Here are the categories the committee uses:
Extinct The species no longer exists in Canada
Extirpated A species no longer exists in the wild in Canada, but can be found elsewhere.
Endangered A species that faces imminent extirpation or extinction.
Threatened A species likely to become endangered if limiting factors are not reversed.
Vulnerable A species of special concern because of characteristics that make it particularly sensitive to human activities or natural events.
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The Edmonton Journal
December 2, 1999.
Rare bison from Alberta end up in hunting preserves
Despite being part of a threatened species, several wood bison sold by Albertas Elk Island National Park have ended up at fenced in hunting preserves.
Hunters at the ranches pay thousands of dollars to track down and kill animals that essentially cant escape.
Records from an auction in March show that at least 13 of 30 bison were sold to organizations that run hunting preserves, said Rob Sinclair of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, which uncovered the transactions.
"The whole idea of national parks is that they are supposed to be refuges for animals," Sinclair said.
"Does this mean well be able to buy grizzlies from Banff tomorrow? Why would the federal government here be supporting and endorsing a practice that the vast majority of Canadians dont agree with?"
At least one hunting ranch in Saskatchewan obtained bison from the park east of Edmonton at the auction, where prices ranged from $2,000 to $6,000 an animal.
Most of the bison bought by Bar 6 Holdings Ltd., would have been resold to other businesses as breeding stock, said Trevor Jurke, spokesperson for the ranch near Lloydminster, Saskatchewan. A few would have been used for hunting "depending on the age of the bull," he said. "If hes getting fairly old and decrepit, hes not going to be doing much breeding, so he might as well be harvested."
Another Saskatchewan hunting ranch charges about $14,000 for bagging a wood bison. The price tag includes guides and accommodation, its Internet site says.
Elk Island National Park was forced to auction off 30 woods bison last March because it couldnt accommodate the animals. And lack of funding has restricted the number of surplus bison that can be sent to free ranging herds set up in northern Canada to reintroduce the animals to the wild, said Norman Cool, acting superintendent of the park.
Still, Elk Island had no idea that some of its animals might be going to hunt farms until contacted by Southam News, Cool said.
"If thats the case, we would probably be reviewing the whole surplus process because it would concern us," he said.
The park may have to stipulate in future what sort of businesses can buy bison from it, said Cool.
Elk Island is the main source in Canada of purebred wood bison, a species that was all but wiped out in the 1800s. Environment Canada estimates they number about 3,100 now.
The park supplies herds that have been set up in the Yukon and Northwest Territories. If two more herds of at least 400 animals are established, wood bison can be taken off the threatened list, but lack of funding and scarce habitat have prevented that.
Jurke said the Bar 6 Ranchs bison are popular with hunters because theyre bigger and more rare than plains bison.