Photos: Wild bison return to Canadian home after more than 100 years.

For the first time in more than 100 years, Banff National Park in Canada is going to be home to wild bison.

A wild bison at Elk Island National Park. Photo from Johane Janelle/Parks Canada.

The Great Plains and eastern slopes of the Rockies were once home to as many as 60 million bison, but by the late 1800s, settlers and disease had almost wiped them out. In 1889, a prominent conservationist estimated only about 1,000 animals remained.


Soon, though, people realized something needed to be done and started taking steps to protect these animals. In the early 1900s, the Canadian government actually tracked down some of the last wild animals and shipped them by train to wildlife refuges. Today, thanks to more than 100 years of conservation efforts, bison numbers have partially recovered. About a half million are managed as livestock, with about 30,000 wild individuals.

On Feb. 6, 2017, as part of ongoing efforts to reintroduce wild bison to the North American wilds, Parks Canada relocated 16 bison from Elk Island National Park to Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada.

Though this is something to be celebrated, moving North America's biggest land animal is anything but simple or easy.

Photo from Johane Janelle/Parks Canada.

An adult bison can weigh up to 2,000 pounds.

These particular bison started their journey at Elk Island National Park near Edmonton, Alberta.

Wild bison at a handling facility in Elk Island National Park near Edmonton. Photo from Cameron Johnson/Parks Canada.

Elk Island has a herd of about 390 animals.

To start, park rangers wrangled up the bison and picked out 16 prospective individuals.

A team member watches one of the bison move through the handling facility. Chutes help channel the animals between holding areas while also keeping them calm. Photo from Cameron Johnson/Parks Canada.

The bison, mostly pregnant young females, were quarantined and given a health checkup before the move then loaded into specially created shipping containers.

The containers had air holes cut out of the top, special doors, and bedding to make the bison comfortable during what was going to be a very long ride.

The bison (and humans) set off on a nearly 250-mile road trip.

Trucks carried the bison from Elk Island National Park to just outside Banff National Park. Photo from Johane Janelle/Parks Canada.

It turns out, Canada's kind of big. Alberta is just Canada's sixth largest territory, but it's nearly the size of Texas.

After seven hours, everyone arrived at the Ya Ha Tinda Ranch outside Banff National Park after midnight.

But that wasn't the end of their journey. Heck, it wasn't even the most incredible part of it. Because then there was the part where they brought in the helicopter.

Parks Canada staff celebrate as the helicopter picks up the last of the bison. Photo from Johane Janelle/Parks Canada.

Banff National Park is huge. It's bigger than the state of Delaware. And there are no roads where these guys were headed.

Photo from Dan Rafla/Parks Canada.

Ya Ha Tinda Ranch is the closest you can get by road. From there on, Banff is horse, boot, or cross-country ski territory. So instead of walking the whole distance, the bison, along with all the personnel and equipment, needed to be flown in.

After a 15-mile helicopter ride, the bison finally touched down in their new home: Banff's Panther Valley.

Parks Canada stand ready in Banff's Panther Valley. Photo from Dan Rafla/Parks Canada.

Panther Valley was chosen for a couple of reasons. It has plenty of bison-friendly open areas, good vegetation, and insulation in the form of warm chinook winds. It's also far enough from people to give the bison a bit of breathing room as they get used to their new space.

Despite the long trip, the bison made themselves at home pretty darn quick.

Photo from Dan Rafla/Parks Canada.

Though the road may have been bumpy, the bison seemed no worse for the wear. They found food and water pretty quick. "They're incredibly robust," said project manager Karsten Heuer. Within a few hours they were rubbing horns and bucking playfully. "I've got a tremendous respect for these animals."

These bison will hopefully be the start of a new wild herd in Banff.

Photo from Dan Rafla/Parks Canada.

The road trip was just the start of a five-year reintroduction plan.

For the next 16 months, they'll stay in an enclosure in Panther Valley to let them give birth and get attached the land. In the summer of 2018, they'll be released to the park as a whole.

Reintroducing the bison has a number of benefits. Visitors to Banff can learn more about them, for instance, and they're also part of the region's culture and history. They even help the plants grow.

But more than that, the mere presence of wild bison has an effect on people.

"Bison are an incredibly iconic animal," Heuer says. They're all at once rugged, adaptable, and strong. They symbolize wildness.

But they're also living in an often human-centric world. Even Banff National Park is only about 100 miles away from Calgary, a million-person city. Just by existing, the bison will continue to ask us things we'll have to grapple with, Heuer says.

Things like where we should draw the line between wilderness and civilization. Or whether all this effort could have been avoided by simply taking more care not to nearly wipe them out a hundred years ago. Or what we want the future to look like.

"It's good to have an animal as big and burly as a bison to help us keep things in perspective," Heuer says.

Note: There was a small display herd of plains bison in Banff National Park until 1997, but the herd was not wild and did not have full access to the ecosystem.

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The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

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Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

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Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


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Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

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Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

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Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

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Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

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L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

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Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

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The 1776 Report isn't just bad, it's historically bad, in every way possible.

When journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones published her Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project for The New York Times, some backlash was inevitable. Instead of telling the story of America's creation through the eyes of the colonial architects of our system of government, Hannah-Jones retold it through the eyes of the enslaved Africans who were forced to help build the nation without reaping the benefits of democracy. Though a couple of historical inaccuracies have had to be clarified and corrected, the 1619 Project is groundbreaking, in that it helps give voice to a history that has long been overlooked and underrepresented in our education system.

The 1776 Report, in turn, is a blaring call to return to the whitewashed curriculums that silence that voice.

In September of last year, President Trump blasted the 1619 Project, which he called "toxic propaganda" and "ideological poison" that "will destroy our country." He subsequently created a commission to tell the story of America's founding the way he wanted it told—in the form of a "patriotic education" with all of the dog whistles that that phrase entails.

Mission accomplished, sort of.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.