What used to be a common sight near the Little Red River Cree Nation is now almost a myth.
In years past, hunters and trappers would commonly see Wood Bison roaming the lands.
The bison were used for ceremonies and sustenance for the people.
Now, some trappers have gone years without a single bison sighting. There is no more hunting.
There are very few bison left in the area, and this has members worried.
Sylvester Auger is a longtime trapper.
He says hunting by non-Indigenous hunters has brought the population to the brink of extinction.
Hunters have been observed killing the animal, taking only the head as a trophy, and leaving the carcass to rot.
“Most of the time, it’s the big herds being taken out.” Auger told APTN News. “The big bulls. And those are the protectors of the herd. When you take out the herd like that, it weakens the herd.”
Auger and two other trappers have written to the Alberta government asking for help to protect the bison population.
Auger wants a protected area that might save the remaining herd. He says members rely on the bison and are part of their way of life.
Losing the bison he says, would be devastating.
“It destroys a person inside mentally,” he said. “Now you have nothing to show your kids, your grand kids that the animal used to be in the area.”
Alberta’s Environment Minister Jason Nixon’s office released a statement which read in part that they admitted the bison population is nearing local extinction, and are looking at all measures to protect the population.
Auger says he is hopeful action can be taken to save the bison, and a part of his community’s history.