Banff’s backcountry has welcomed its first bison babies in 140 years.

Three calves have been born to the herd that was recently reintroduced to Banff National Park. The first calf was born in the Panther Valley on April 22 — Earth Day — and since then, two more have joined the group.

“It’s very exciting for us,” said Bill Hunt, Parks Canada resource conservation manager. “Hopefully we’ll have seven more.”

He said the three calves, which are about the size of a large dog, are healthy and robust despite the recent heavy snowfall in the Banff area.

“We’ve had two and half or three feet of snow and for a lot of babies to be born into that, they’d be in jeopardy. But they’re romping around. They’re really well adapted to that environment.”

Parks Canada relocated 16 wild bison, including 10 pregnant females, from Elk Island National as part of a $6.5-million, five-year trial project. They were transported in three-metre-long shipping containers to Ya Ha Tinda Ranch in late January. They were then airlifted by helicopter to the soft-release paddock which is fenced to contain the bison and — more importantly now that there are calves — to keep predators out.

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