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European Bison news

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by Jurek7, 17 Feb 2020.

  1. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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    45 wild European bison to be shot in Poland in 2020: 30 in Knyszynska and Borecka and 15 in Bieszczady.
    Puszcza Borecka, Puszcza Knyszyńska, Bieszczady - żubry wciąż śmiertelnie zagrożone. Czas na zmianę! - Greenpeace Polska
    The wild population in Poland is growing, so European bison which cannot be rehomed are often shot – about 40 per year.

    By the way, a message to professionals from zoos and wildlife parks lurking on this forum: did you consider adding European bison to your collection? The problem of culling could be solved if half of European holders of the non-threatened American bison changed to keeping the Wisent.

    I sometimes wonder why this European native, charismatic and easy to keep species is not receiving more interest on this forum?
     
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  2. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

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    It would be far better and just under EU Habitat protection to relocate elsewhere. Obviously, this underlines a rather negative attitude towards nature and wildlife conservation in Poland!
     
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  3. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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    European Bison appear in the Słonne Mountains

    Since the release in Bieszczady mountains, Poland in 1976, the European Bison gradually increased and spread. High-traffic roads (nos. 893, 892, 889) and the San River seem to be important barriers to migration, as well as wide agricultural valleys. Until 2020, the population spread in the Bieszczady area of Poland and Slovakia, although animals several times entered the eastern Low Beskids. It was awaited with interest when and where the bison would cross the river San northwards and reach the Słonne Mountains.

    In mid-January 2020 the first information about the bison in these mountains was obtained from the hunters, and then confirmed by the local population and foresters. Bison used beets and corn provided by hunters for huntable animals.

    The foresters found evidence of a group of 4-5 individuals, including a bull which was photographed near the village of Hołuczków. This does not guarantee permanent colonization of Słonne mountains, but the first reconnaisance has already taken place.

    Żubrze! Witaj w Górach Słonnych ! - Stowarzyszenie Miłośników Żubrów
     
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  4. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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    Bison Emergency Service

    The West Pomeranian Nature Society has been working with European bison in West Poland for almost 15 years. Over time, the Bison Emergency Service was created as part of LIFE project and is continued in the new POIS project. Although bison do not call the emergency number (and that would be something!), in case of a car accident or a herd entering agricultural crops, people can call for help. There were also cases when dispersing bulls stopped in the fields. After the report, someone from the team always came to talk to the local people that such a bull will not stay there loger. This is an extremely important activity to make the bison not a "big hairy stranger", because what is unknown can cause fear.

    The usual intervention is scaring off the bison from agricultural crops. During the agricultural season, interventions take place as soon as possible. Thanks to the telemetry collars for bisons (in 90% of cases they are females), the Bison Emergency Service through the online 'Safety Information on Bisons' can react in advance before any agricultural damage occurs.

    O Pogotowiu kilka słów.....
    Bezpieczna Informacja o Żubrach
     
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  5. Jungle Man

    Jungle Man Well-Known Member

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    @Jurek7 thanks for keeping us informed about the current situation of european bisons!!:)
     
  6. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Really quite sad that these beautiful creatures are being culled rather than transported to other areas of Europe where they were historically present and reintroduced. But considering some of the challenges perhaps it is not at all suprising that there would be a reluctance towards doing this.

    I remember when I was in Northern Spain hearing first hand from someone about the attempt to bring them back to the Cantabrian / Asturian ending in them being deliberately maimed and killed for no reason whatsoever.
     
  7. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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  8. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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  9. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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    An unusual find was made in February 2020, by a forester in Czerlonka near Białowieża. He found a partially eaten european bison (young bull) killed by wolves. Traces on the neck of the bitten animal showed that the wolves killed it. Successful wolf attacks on bison are sporadic, because bison can defend themselves. Wolves hunt such large animals usually by grabbing hind legs so that the bison crouches, and the other pack members pull him down.

    Niecodzienne znalezisko w Nadleśnictwie Hajnówka - Stowarzyszenie Miłośników Żubrów
     
  10. Pleistohorse

    Pleistohorse Well-Known Member

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    It’s going to be an unpopular position for sure, but have they ever considered auctioning off the right to “cull” (or harvest) the excess animals? Be a good way to fund conservation, raise awareness, buy private land for preservation, even to help cover the cost of relocating some animals. Or for much less expense than an auction establish a draw were any resident of the Poland (or the EU) can pay say 500 euros for the chance to be drawn and then take part in the cull. Might raise more money.
     
  11. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

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    I know what you are getting at and in some areas this kind of management might work (examples like caprids in the Hindukush-Mountains et cetera) when dealing with local demographic groups like hunters or disenfranchised communities. However, in Central Europe and with the abundance of funding and investment available to deal with conservation success issues here, it should be the other way round. Now our extractive - economic growth model - economies do nothing to recognise and value the concept of an intact ecosystem and ecosystem services in monetary terms.

    Conservation and education are some of the transformative policies in actually creating a healthy and more sustainable planet and environment. They actually make economic sense and will create jobs and many more than any conventional and traditional extractive economic activities (heavy industry, transport, mining, forestry, intensive farming and agriculture) have been able to provide us. This is not just a beautiful far-fetched theory only for cynical multinational global economic operators to legitimise their own damage while ignoring the incremental costs accrued by their own extractive economisation of labour, resources and our only Living Planet. Investment in a Healthy Planet is an investment in a healthy future for all living animals (which includes people-mankind), plants, habitats and the wider environment!

    Rewilding is just another of the tools in the box that is designed to achieve that. Hence, it makes sense to provide state and community funding of restoration programmes, all the while while recognising involvement and direct participation of the local communities is key in these efforts.

    Aside: Now American bison have been saved thanks to a large scale public effort under strictly traditional conservation ethics to literally re-conserve the species as an icon of North American natural heritage. The numbers of American bison Bison bison at an estimated number of individuals of ... is testament to the American Bison Society plan developed in 1905. Whereas it has nowhere near allowed the original numbers to come back at an estimated 6 mio American bison, it has at least allowed them a resurgence to today's 500,000 (of which actually probably only some 5,500 - 7,000 might be considered purebred without any domestic cattle genetics bred into them).

    Why would you deny us Europeans then the effort / endeavour / determination to bring back European bison or Wisent Bison bonasus numbers up beyond the mere 7,500 - which is nowhere near a level you could say with dry eyes they are not ENDANGERED and just SAFE - we have today globally to a more sustainable and safer level of numbers by either traditional conservation ethic or as what I am actually suggesting and favouring as per my above-mentioned arguments?
     
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  12. GiratinaIsGod

    GiratinaIsGod Well-Known Member

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    Well there a 2 main diffrences between europe and the US. Forst, there is far less aviable land. Most of the suiteble habitat for the european bison is allready destoried. Far less potential habititas exist. And most of them are not far of population centers. Not like the plains region of the US and Canada.

    The second problem is that most of the suteble habitat is in the poor and under developed east of europe. which is FAR poorer than the US.
     
  13. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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    Commercial cull was stopped after negative opinions of conservation organizations and public outcry. Unfortunately, non-commerical cull is still practiced, although diminished.

    The situation in Poland looks different to your assumptions. Funding is no problem. The bison population is still relatively tiny. The cost of conservation is objectively small compared to the budget of state forests. There are also dedicated conservation funds available.

    Awareness of bison is very much present in the society. European bison is a national animal in Poland and a symbol of protection. So it was difficult to justify shooting them. There was also additional image problem - it was hard to justify fighting tourist disturbance and poaching when disturbance and killing by hunters was allowed.

    Most of all, culling was preventing population growth to safe numbers and colonization of new forests by bison. Shooting was an easy and all-covering solution to bison management. Canned hunting was practiced - excess bulls raised in captivity were released for shooting.

    Currently, the different management practice is taking place: population growth leads to natural colonization of new forests, and there are (although too few) translocations. European bison is still absent from 95% of state forests in Poland, so space is there. There are non-lethal ways of conflict mitigation, like buying feeding plots, compensations to farmers and dispersing bison so that feeding damage is low to unnoticeable.

    Elsewhere, in Belarus and Ukraine, commercial hunting was also (or is) practised. There the problem was governance. Culling was not sustainable, and funds did not flow to conservation.
     
    Last edited: 7 Jun 2020
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  14. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

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    In the last few years quite a few new translocation and reintroduction efforts have taken place in Balkans and Romania. Even in Western Europe more and more locations are allowing European bison to reoccupy the rangelands and improve the quality of forest and open grassland ecosystems. Can only be a good thing. Conservation funding in Europe is assisting these efforts greatly!
     
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  15. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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    Back to the topic of European bison and hunting.

    I think bison could be successful game animals in Western Europe, in places which have already well organized hunting culture, good management of game animals and control over poaching. A bison gives a nice trophy, lots of meat, and eats different plants than deer, often plants like bramble and nettle which are avoided by other hoofed mammals. I can perfectly imagine that e.g. forests in Germany or Switzerland, which currently have good population of red deer, also have bison living with similar status of game animals.

    In Eastern Europe, hunting did not work well so far - bison were over-hunted or killed illegally (poached). It shows that for bison, more important is local human organization than natural factors.
     
  16. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

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    @jurek, you are forgetting the essentials here: the European bison or wisent is a EU protected species! Further, I do think that a species that is yet on the IUCN Red List and put it on the game animal listing sends out to wrong signal (BTW: I have little if any grounds for optimism and trust in the old hunting fraternity in Germany - the same cohorte that is conveniently waiting out when the European grey wolves come off the German protected species list as they and the CDU/CSU would want it to be and also given the fact that overall since 2000 at least 40+ wolves have been illegally killed in Germany (and guess who have hunting gear and rifles?) where most cases have yet to be cleared up or even forensically researched properly by law enforcement authorities -.

    Hunting protected species can only work when an independent authority monitors populations and designates and sets the hunting quota. That information nor its management should never be left for the hunting fraternity to come up with the data in the first place.

    BTW: I have nothing against professional hunters' mind, but the ethics and technical competence of a good number in Western Europe leaves much to be desired and if you cannot distinguish a dog from a wolf, a goshawk from a rook than you are not fit for office or field work. In fact, I am pro good hunting and practice, I just do not see much in evidence to suggest we can let go of the leash.
     
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  17. Zorro

    Zorro Well-Known Member

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    Would have to fully agree with you @Kifaru Bwana
     
  18. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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    I am not an enthusiast of hunting, but hunters in Germany are good in maintaining large population of three species of deer for hunting the surplus. If bison can be maintained this way, the species can be saved.

    Legal situation of bison in Europe is a mess. I don't understand it myself. In Poland, commercial hunting of bison called excess or ill was allowed. In some countries, apparently, bison are classified as domestic cattle, or it is forbidden to release them at all. Some years ago bison specialists called for bringing this regulation in line.
     
  19. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

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    @jurek, the hunting community in Germany are maintaining hoof stock (deer+) numbers at artificial numbers with provisional laid out nutrition at hunting locations. Their populations are at best ecologically far above a natural balance in order to be able to hunt them. This is a far cry from any sensible and sound ecological sustainable and scientifically based wildlife management system. It is also the prime reason why numbers of the major European Carnivora continue to be at a very low levels compared and where opposition by a good portion of the hunting fraternity to an ecological equilibrium and respect for Federal and European wildlife laws is not self-evident.

    Just allowing hunting of European bison (unmanaged) and by the hunting fraternity and designation as a game animal would be in contravention of the European recovery program managed by the Polish Academy of Sciences (it is an EEP program managed from outside the EAZA under scientific guidance from the science community in Poland). I present a report on the management guidelines from 2013 by the Centrum Koordynacji Projektów Środowiskowych. This effort is part of the LIFE+ project and allthough a little outdated since many new reintroduction projects in Carpathians, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Spain, Netherlands and others it at least gives you an overview of the complexity and the as yet precarious status of one of Europe's mega herbivore and ambassador species. It shows how painstaking efforts to conserve have led to a gradual, if rather slow recovery of the species at home in Poland and elsewhere. I would be loathe to have that recovery dashed by allowing a local hunting fraternity in any range country free reign.

    Link: https://ec.europa.eu/environment/li...l=BEST-FOR-BIODIVERSITY_European-Bison_EN.pdf
     
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  20. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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    Two wild wisents born in Augustowska forest, Poland

    Two young were camera-trapped. This group was founded in 2018 and currently numbers 15 bison. It includes wild bulls which migrated naturally, translocated wild cows and elderly animals released from a disbanded private herd at Kiejmusy.
    Podlaskie: W Puszczy Augustowskiej urodziły się dwa żubry - finanse

    Young wisent was born in Shahdag National Park, Azerbaijan

    A second calf was born in the wild. Bison were released from French and Belgian zoos in 2019. The group currently numbers 14 bison.
    Şahdağ Milli Parkında zubrların sayı 14-ə çatıb - İki sahil + Google translate

    For me, founding and births in new groups of bison are especially important. Creating many groups in many countries offers a better insurance that the european bison survives.