European bison in the Rothaargebirge, Germany

  • Country:
    Germany
  • Start year:
    2004
  • Location:
    Rothaargebirge
  • Size (ha):
    6000
  • Area Type:
    Germany

In the “Rothaargebirge” in North-Rhine-Westphalia, Germany a herd of 8 European bison were released into the wild. A serious attempt to reintroduce a population of free ranging bison in Western Europe. Historically the European bison was distributed almost throughout all Europe.

European bison in the Rothaargebirge, Germany

Area

  • Habitat types: Mainly coniferous forests and deciduous forest
  • Fauna (mega) species present: red deer, wild boar, mouflon, roe deer
  • Fauna species reintroduced: European bison

Scope

  • Description: In 2010 the first European bison arrived in an acclimatization enclosure in the Rothaargebirge, Germany. After three years research about spatial behaviour of the bison, influence of the bison on their environment (forest, flora and fauna) and socio-economics, a herd of 8 individuals could be released in april 2013. The following years will show if a reintroduction of a large herbivore in a human dominated landscape (forestry, tourism) can be successful.
  • Aim: Goal is to establish a free-ranging herd of 20-25 European bison in the Rothaargebirge and to ensure the survival of this species on the long term.
  • Vision: To provide an example for further reintroduction projects elsewhere, where humans are omnipresent in the landscape.
  • Flagship species: Bison
  • Other characteristics: Eco tourism, Research

Exchange

  • Inspirational value: This is the first attempt to reintroduce a large herbivore in a commercial forest and to establish a free ranging bison herd in West Europe. This would not be possible if not different parties would work together. A variety of different stakeholders are cooperating and involved in this project, e.g. private landowner, the city of Bad Berleburg, an animal and nature protection trust -Europäische Tier und Naturschutz Stiftung, the district Kreis-Siegen Wittgenstein, the rural district NRW and the federal state in terms of the Federal Agency of Nature Conservation (BfN), as well as nature conservation organizations and different Universities. This construction is unique for a nature conservation project in this form and can work as example for projects with a similar goal and situation.
  • Experience you would like to share: wildlife management; animal interactions with the environment; human - bison encounters; public awareness and social context of reintroducing a wild animal
  • Experience you would like to gain: wildlife management; animal interactions with the environment; human - bison encounters; public awareness and social context of reintroducing a wild animal

Video

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