Learn More About Our Featured Animal

This year we are shining a spotlight on one of Alberta’s keystone species, Bison, which has been a historically important part, not just of the eco-system in Alberta, but also a keystone ingredient for people that have lived on this land.

The buffalo was an incredibly important part of Indigenous people of the plains. The buffalo hunt was a part of a huge community event. The buffalo wasn’t just used as a food source, every part of the animal was used. Bones were turned into utensils and tools, sinew provided thread and the hide as clothing and for shelter and the meat for food.

Historically, there were over 30 million bison in North America, and that number was decimated in the late 1880’s from over exploitation and the loss of natural habitat. Thanks to conservation efforts, wild bison is growing in Alberta.

Today, outside of wild bison habitats such as Elk Island National Park, Wood Buffalo National Park and Banff National Park, Alberta bison – deemed to be the cornerstone of the diversified livestock industry in Alberta – represents almost half of the Canadian bison herd on farms.

Ready to learn more about bison? We’ve got 5 fun facts about bison and bison ranching in Alberta.

Bison or Buffalo?

Scientifically, in the North American Buffalo, is actually a bison, however, Indigenous Peoples refer to the bison as “buffalo.” Our featured artist this year, Liz Buller Page, explains why in our interview.

How long do bison live?

Bison should live 20-25 years in their natural environment

Are bison fast runners?

Bison may look large and slow, but they can run up to 48 Km/hr (30 mph).  Bison can be dangerous to those that are not familiar with bison temperament and nature. If you see bison in a field – admire from a far!

How can I cook bison meat?

Bison is a very tasty and lean meat! The Bison Producers of Canada have some great recipes on their website

Are there lots of bison ranches in Alberta?

Alberta leads the nation in farmed bison inventories! The 2021 Census of Agriculture, reported were 472 Alberta farms reporting bison (buffalo), which accounted for 48 per cent of the Canadian total.

The total number of bison (buffalo) on Alberta farms were 65,405 head, accounting for 44 per cent of the national total (149,539 head).



Want more information about Bison in Alberta? Check out these resources.


Bison Producers of Alberta

Canadian Bison Producers