Sunday, 21 April 2013

European bison released into the wild in Germany

European bison roaming in Germany for the first time for 400 years

April 2013. On 11 April 2013, a fence was cut down in the Bad Berleburg region of Germany. Nothing unusual in that, except that cutting the fence allowed a small herd of European bison (sometimes known as wisent) to become the first free roaming herd in Western Europe for 400 years. 

The opening of the fence released a small herd, consisting of one adult bull, five cows and two calves, into a 10,000 hectare forest. Two of the animals are fitted with radio transmitters to allow scientists to track and follow them. The animals will roam entirely free in the large forests of the Rothaar Mountains around Bad Berleburg in North Rhine-Westphalia. It is hoped that the herd will grow to about 25 animals. The World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) called the project a ground-breaking step in nature conservation of Germany.

The herd has been kept in an 88 hectare enclosure for the last three years and has been intensively studied by scientists and universities. They have studied the behavior between man and bison, they have analyzed the role of the bison in the ecosystem and the impacts on biodiversity and also examined the impact on forestry. The conclusion was that: ‘bison are indeed great and powerful, but also very peace loving and shy animals, and present no risk to humans.' More information can be found on the German bison website.

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