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Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary
Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary
The Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary is a protected wildlife reserve located east of the community of Fort Providence, Northwest Territory, Canada. The protected reserve was established in 1963 and is home to a heard of free roaming bison (buffalo) referred to as the Mackenzie Herd.
The Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary covers over 10,000 square kilometres. Great Slave Lake borders the east side of the park and the Frontier Highway (Highway #3) borders along the west side of the park. The Frontier Highway follows the park boundary for over 80 kilometres (50 miles).
In 1963 a small herd of bison where discovered in the deep wilderness of the Northwest Territory. This was odd at the time as disease and hunting had almost wiped the bison population out. In 1963 the 18 or so bison were then captured and relocated to a newly created protected reserve.
A year later the Northwest Territory declared the bison a protected species. Ever since then the bison has been a species at risk. The Committee on the Status of Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) have also placed the bison on the "threatened species" watch list.
Long ago the bison roamed freely in Alberta, north British Columbia, Yukon and the Northwest Territory. Today... the Mackenzie Herd and the Wood Buffalo Herd (Herd of bison south of the Mackenzie Herd in the Wood Buffalo Park) are the only two herds left to roam in the Northwest Territory.
In 1987 a bison buffer zone was erected to protect the two herds from interacting with each other. It was a protective move made to reduce the possible spread of disease which would wipe both herds out.
Today, the numbers of the Mackenzie Herd are ranging from 2000 to 3000 buffalo. The Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary is home to the first successful bison relocation program recorded in North America.
Traveling the Frontier Highway is, still to this day, one of the best ways to view the Mackenzie Herd. The bison are often grazing along the side of the highway. Sometimes resting on the highway and almost always crossing the highway. Be alert and aware of bison when driving. Do not approach or feed bison at any time.
How to Get to the Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary
There is no real entrance to the park. There are guides and flightseeing charters which provide tours. However. the best access to viewing the bison is via exploring along Frontier Highway (Hwy #3) between the Mackenzie River Ferry and the community of Yellowknife.
| Bison Park