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For First time in 140 years, Bison calves born in Canadian National Park Area

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FILE - A wild bison, selected from Elk Island National Park’s healthy conservation herd to be moved to the remote wilderness of Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada, is pictured in this Jan. 31, 2017, handout photo. VOA

Bison calves have been born in the area that makes up Alberta’s Banff National Park for the first time in 140 years, Parks Canada officials said Tuesday, marking a milestone in attempts to reintroduce a wild herd to the area.

Conservation officers said three calves had been born since Saturday in the remote Panther Valley on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains and that seven more were expected.

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Western Alberta is dealing with unseasonably cold spring weather, but Bill Hunt, resource conservation manager for Banff National Park, said the calves were well-equipped to deal with harsh conditions.

“Last night, we had 2 to 3 feet (60 to 90 centimeters) of snow, but fortunately bison are very well-adapted, so these little calves drop out, get their legs straightaway, start nursing and do fine,” Hunt said.

Parks Canada released a 16-strong herd of plains bison, including 10 pregnant females, in the country’s oldest national park in February.

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They are keeping them under observation until summer 2018, when the animals will be released into the full 460-square-mile (1,189-square-kilometer) reintroduction zone after the females calve again next spring.

Bison herds of up to 30 million animals once migrated freely across North America. The shaggy, hump-shouldered animals, also widely known as buffalo, were nearly hunted to extinction in the late 19th century. Rangers estimate that bison have not grazed in Banff National Park since before it was established in 1885. (VOA)

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Know About the Impact of Bushfires in Australia on Wildlife

Wildlife Catastrophe Caused by Australian Bushfires

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kangaroo Australia
An injured kangaroo with a joey in its pouch, limps through burnt bushland in Cobargo, Australia. VOA

By Phil Mercer

More than 1 billion animals have been killed in bushfires in the Australian state of New South Wales, according to leading wildlife experts.

Bushfires have had a terrible impact on Australia. Lives have been lost, thousands of homes destroyed and vast areas of land incinerated. The disaster has also had catastrophic consequences for animals. Images of badly burned koalas, Australia’s famous furry marsupials, have come to define the severity of the fire emergency.

The University of Sydney has estimated that more than 1 billion mammals, birds and reptiles, as well as “hundreds of billions” of insects have died in the fires. Experts have warned that “for some species we are looking at imminent extinction.”

Vets and volunteers Australia
Vets and volunteers treat koalas at Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park on Kangaroo Island, southwest of Adelaide, Australia. VOA

They also fear that animals that have survived the fires by fleeing or seeking safety underground will return to areas that will not have the food, water or shelter to support them.

Saving the zoo animals

At zoos and wildlife reserves, staff risked their lives protecting the animals in their care.

As fires tore through the town of Mogo on the New South Wales south coast on New Year’s Eve, there were grave fears for the animals at the local zoo. Remarkably, they all survived, but the property is badly damaged.

Chad Staples, the head keeper, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation about his decision to stay to fight the flames.

“We have a lot of damaged fences,” he said. “The good thing is that we saved every single animal, there is no injuries, there’s no sickness. We had to stay here and protect them. We knew that this was the best place that we, if we worked hard, could make this a safe place. But, yeah, of course, I think everyone, at [a] different point, was scared out of their wits.”

Farm animals perish

Tens of thousands of farm animals also have likely died in the bushfire disaster.

Farmers have been forced to euthanize injured stock. The losses could run into the millions of dollars.

Only when the fires clear will Australia be able to more accurately assess the full extent of the damage on livestock and wildlife.

Dozens of fires continue to burn across several Australian states.

Australia Wildfires
A koala drinks water from a bottle given by a firefighter in Cudlee Creek, South Australia. VOA

Saving the zoo animals

At zoos and wildlife reserves, staff risked their lives protecting the animals in their care.

As fires tore through the town of Mogo on the New South Wales south coast on New Year’s Eve, there were grave fears for the animals at the local zoo. Remarkably, they all survived, but the property is badly damaged.

Chad Staples, the head keeper, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation about his decision to stay to fight the flames.

“We have a lot of damaged fences,” he said. “The good thing is that we saved every single animal, there is no injuries, there’s no sickness. We had to stay here and protect them. We knew that this was the best place that we, if we worked hard, could make this a safe place. But, yeah, of course, I think everyone, at [a] different point, was scared out of their wits.”

Farm animals perish

Tens of thousands of farm animals also have likely died in the bushfire disaster.

Farmers have been forced to euthanize injured stock. The losses could run into the millions of dollars.

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Only when the fires clear will Australia be able to more accurately assess the full extent of the damage on livestock and wildlife.

Dozens of fires continue to burn across several Australian states. (VOA)