Wood Bison Reintroduction 2015

Bison Consulting Services

Who we are;  


Wes Olson                                                                           

With more than 40 years experience working with bison in almost every habitat they occupy in Canada, and on topics ranging from ecology to behavior, genetics to subspeciation, the design and construction of world class bison handing facilities, Wes can provide logistical support and advise on most bison management activities.



Curriculum Vitae for Wes Olson

Contact Information

Phone: 306-315-3294

Mail: Box 53 Lamont, AB, T0B 2R0

Email: [email protected]


After graduation from college in 1975, I worked as a Wildlife Technician in Yukon and northern Alberta until 1981 when I joined Parks Canada as a National Park Warden. I retired in 2012 after working in Banff, Waterton, Elk Island, Prince Albert, and Grasslands National Parks. For most of those years, my primary responsibilities revolved around the management of Parks Canada plains and wood bison populations. I also owned and operated a bison ranch for 16 years. After retirement I established Wes Olson Consulting Services, offering my bison management experience to clients who want to establish their own populations of bison.


Alberta Forest Service

1972; Alberta Forest Service; Foreman on a Junior Forest Warden crew, July and August

1973; Alberta Forest Service; Forest Fire Initial Attack crew member; May to October

1974; Alberta Forest Service; Lookout man, Forget-me-not Lookout, May to October

1975; Alberta Forest Service; Forest Patrolman, Willow Creek District, May to October

Wildlife Technician – Yukon, 1975 to 1979:

  • Porcupine caribou population dynamics/surveys
  • Pine marten predator-prey relationships
  • Beaver ecology and management
  • Dall/stone sheep, elk, moose, mountain goat, woodland caribou, wolf and wolverine aerial population surveys

1979 to 1981: Wildlife Technician; Western Wildlife Environmental Consulting

  • Wildlife research pertaining to oil and gas exploration in northwestern Alberta, including.
    • Live trapping of grizzly and black bears for radio-collaring to identify and monitor critical habitat, dispersal, and population demography
    • Monitor impacts of human activity on bear populations
    • Aerial surveys of all resident and migratory ungulates, monthly for two years.
    • Vegetation, track, and pellet surveys in relation to ungulate use of habitats

1981 to 2012: National Park Warden

During my career with Parks Canada, I participated in all functions of the National Park Warden. These included Public Safety, Law Enforcement and Resource Management. While the roles of public safety and law enforcement were important components of my job, resource management, and in particular, bison management occupied the majority of my time.

I have participated in the establishment of the following free-ranging, wild or semi-wild conservation populations

Plains Bison.

  • Old Man on His Back, Nature Conservancy
  • Grasslands National Park population
  • Captive display herds in Banff, Waterton, Prince Albert, Riding Mountain, and Rocky Mountain House National Historic Park,

Wood Bison

  • Hay Zama, northwestern Alberta
  • Nisling River, Yukon
  • Syncrude/Fort McKay, Alberta
  • Nordquist Flats, BC
  • Fort Liard, BC
  • Etthithun Lake, BC
  • Lenskie Stolby Nature Park, Sahka Republic, Siberia

2012 to present: Wes Olson Consulting Services

            I provide the following services to clients;

  • Bison herd establishment, feasibility assessments
  • Carrying capacity estimates
  • Financial costs related to the establishment of a bison population
  • Training and education as they pertain to managing a bison population
  • Presentations about various aspects of bison ecology, behavior, demographics, and herd health
  • Project specific bison management plans, such as;
    • Syncrude – Fort McKay Bison Management Plan
    • Grasslands National Park Bison Management Plan
    • Kainai Holistic Bison Management Plan
    • Environment Canada, National Wildlife Area, Grazing Options analysis
    • Wanuskewin Heritage Park, Bison Management Plan


I have travelled extensively across Canada and the US giving Keynote presentations about all aspects of bison ecology at conferences, symposiums, University and College classes, and numerous NGO or private functions.


Olson, W.E. 2019. An Ancient Partnership: Prairie grass, bison, and First Nations. In; Ellis, 2019. Intertwined Histories: Plants and their social contexts. University of Calgary Press.

Olson, W. E. 2012. Portraits of the Bison; An Illustrated Guide to Bison Society. 2nd Edition. Timbergulch Press. 107 pp.

Olson, W. E. 2012. A Field Guide to Plains Bison. Timbergulch Press.87 pp.

Olson, W.E. “Bison”, Canadian Encyclopedia section on bison (online) 2017

Olson, W.E. 2000. A phenotypic and body condition assessment guide for plains and wood bison. Timbergulch Press. 41 pp.

Caulkett, N.A., M. R. L. Cattet, S. Cantwell, N. Cool and W.E. Olson. 2000. Anesthesia of wood bison with medetomidine-zolazepam / tiletamine and xylazine - zolazepam / tiletamine combinations. Canadian Veterinary Journal. Vol. 41, January 2000, pp 49 - 52.

Hood, G.A., S.E. Bayley and W. Olson. 2007. Effects of prescribed fire on habitat of beaver (Castor canadensis) in Elk Island National Park, Canada. Forest Ecology and Management 239 (2007) 200-209.

van Zyll de Jong, C. G., C.C. Gates, W. E. Olson, H. W. Reynolds, and T. Unka, 1991. An illustrated guide to bison phenotypes. Produced by; The taxonomy Subcommittee of the Wood Bison Recovery Team.

van Zyll de Jong, C. G., C. Gates, H. Reynolds, and W. E. Olson. 1995. Phenotypic variation in remnant populations of North American Bison. Journal of Mammalogy. 76 (2): 391 - 405, 1995.

Wilson, G. A., W. E. Olson, and C. Strobeck. 2002. Reproductive success in Wood bison (Bison bison athabascae), a polygynous mammal, established using molecular techniques. Can J. Zool. 80:1537-1548.



Johane is an accomplished photographer whose work has graced the covers of many Canadian and US magazines. She also has an extensive suite of experience in handling bison during roundups, has participated in aerial segregation counts of wild bison, and provides photographic assistance to producers who wish to register their bison with the Canadian Bison Association’s Bison Registry. She is an accomplished graphic designer and has produced many publications for Parks Canada, Economic Development groups, profession equestrians, bison ranchers, etc. Johane is fluently bilingual in French and English, and can provide assistance in either language. 


The services we provide;                                                                                                                                               

Many people dream about having bison grazing their property, either as a commercial venture, or to contribute to the conservation of this amazing animal. We can help you realize that dream, but we also help you understand the complexities and realities of attaining it. We can provide advice and logistical support on the following topics;


Bison capture, handling and sorting facility design, from conception to completion. We can design a small facility for just a few bison, or large scale facilities to accommodate hundreds of animals. Facility blueprints are produced using AutoCad to provide clients and contractors with a facility design that matches their unique requirements of scale, location, and purpose.We can design your pasture and fencing needs to meet your specific requirements.Carrying capacity estimates of your property to ensure that your most valuable resource, grass, is managed in a manner that protects it yet allows maximum utilization.A source of knowledge; With over three decades of bison related experience, we can provide answers to most of your questions related to all aspects of bison care and management, behavior and ecology.


Wes participated in the development of the assessment procedure, and can provide an assessment of your bison to determine whether they are morphometrically and phenotypically pure plains or wood bison, or if they are cross bred as parkland bison.


Johane, as a professional photographer, can provide images of your ranch, your bison and your marketing in a manner that will both attract new clients and assist you in registering your bison with the Canadian Livestock Records Corporation, pure bred bison registry.


If you are interested in more information about bison, need a presenter at a conference or seminar, or require photographs of bison or your property, please contact us and we would be pleased to assist you.