For the first time in 140 years, wild bison calves have been born in Banff’s backcountry. With the main goal being to re-establish a new wild population in Panther Valley, Alberta, experts are calling this a “key step.”

CBC Canada reports, the first calf was born on Earth Day last week and is doing well, settling into its new home. Since then, two more baby bison have joined the herd. Even better yet, Parks Canada is expecting seven more calves to come soon.

“It’s fantastic. We knew it was coming, but when the message came out of the backcountry on Saturday that the first calf had already dropped, I think everyone was pleasantly surprised,” said Bill Hunt, a resource conservation manager with Parks Canada.

“It’s a really key step, and the fact that these young calves look so healthy and so well adjusted in this habitat is really encouraging.”

At such a young age, bison calves – known as “red coats” – tend to stick close to their mothers. Grizzlies roam the area as well, and are well known experts for seeking out newborn babies.

Officials are also hopeful that, since birthing the calves in the area, the bison will stick around to call this place home for good.

“It’s a huge step in this process,” said Hunt. “We know … that where a young female drops her calf it really ties her to that space even if she was born somewhere else.”

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