A brief history of bison

It’s the largest land mammal in North America, dominating the continent from the Ice Age to the time of the European settlers. Because of its history, the animal is perfectly adapted to the North American climate, vegetation and environment.19 Okanagan Grill + Bar - buffalohunt2

Bison provided First Nations people with food, shelter, tools and fuel for thousands of years. Over time they came to regard the bison as their special gift from the Great Spirit.

Strong winds of change

As settlers moved into the center of the continent looking for land to farm, minerals to mine and towns to build, the natural home of both First Nations people and bison diminished. History suggests there were 60 million bison in 1800, and in 1899 there were less than 1000. The few remaining herds were mostly found in National Parks in subsequent years.

Extinction avoided

By 2005, it was estimated that there were over 500,000 bison on farms and ranches in North America. In Canada it is estimated that there are almost 2000 bison producers who own over 250,000 bison. Because of consumer demand and the initiatives of farmers and ranchers the population of this almost extinct animal continues to grow. It is certainly a conservation success story.

Canadian Rangeland Bison

19-Okanagan-Grill-+-Bar-Canadian Rangeland BisonThese animals are born and raised on the Pilatus Bison Farm near Bentley Alberta. The vast grasslands in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains are ideal pasture grounds for the herds. The farm consists of about 2000 bison on close to 1000 hectares of land. Their goal is the production of high quality meat for the health conscious meat consumer. They are raised without the use of hormones or antibiotics, and are not fed any animal by-products.

Lean and flavourful

Bison is lower in fat than beef and slightly lower in cholesterol than chicken. Because of the lower fat content, it can be tricky to prepare. Chef Scotty Powell and his 19 Okanagan Kitchen Team know how to do it well.