A bison from Syncrude’s much-touted herd in the oilsands has tested positive for anthrax.
Officials recently found three carcasses on the Beaver Wood Bison Ranch, a herd that’s made its home on reclaimed land on the Mildred Lake oilsands site for more than 20 years.
There’s an average of about 300 bison in the herd and usually up to five workers on the ranch. Syncrude closed off the area, contained the animal carcasses, and shut down a public viewing point.
“We still do have a significant number of bison at the site and so we need to make sure that we protect those workers and allow them to be able to go to the remaining herd and feed and water those. So, that’s kind of the main focus right now,” says spokesperson Leithan Slade.
Officials took tissue samples from the bison, with one confirmed death from anthrax. They’re still waiting for results from the other two bison and are trying to find out how the animals contracted the bacteria.
“There’s also been several outbreaks in Canada including in Wood Buffalo National Park just north of our operations. But, at this point we don’t know exactly what lead to our bison being infected,” says Slade.
This is the first time anthrax was detected in this herd, while Parks Canada confirmed several cases in Wood Buffalo National Park over the summer.
In March, the federal government announced a program to reintroduce plains bison to Banff National Park.