European Rewilding Network
054

European bison in Poland

LIFE "Diversification and development of the European bison population in north-western Poland"

The LIFE project in Poland has seen bison numbers in the north-west of the country nearly double from 110 to 200 individuals.
Western Pomeranian Natural Society

Western Pomeranian Nature Society

Western Pomeranian Nature Society

The European bison (Bison bonasus) is one of two extant species of bison, alongside the American bison. It once ranged throughout the lowlands of Europe, with the last wild populations, in Poland’s Białowieża forest and the northern Caucasus, becoming extinct by 1927. They have since been reintroduced from captivity into several European countries, with all animals being descendants of the Białowieża or lowland European bison. Today, in the West Pomeranian region, the population of European bison is small, isolated and of low genetic diversity. Furthermore, growth in the population takes place without a corresponding increase in the area of occurrence, with low social acceptance being a key factor blocking the growth and expansion of the population.

The project is addressing the problems of low genetic diversity and population growth of European bison in and between Natura 2000 network sites in north-western Poland. The main objectives are to create a model for bison population management in an area of intensive human economic activity, and to increase the European bison population from the existing 110 to at least 190 individuals. The project is also initiating a corresponding increase in the area for bison habitat by at least 30%, with a decrease in the average seasonal bison density per area unit. The project’s specific objectives are to:

  • Create a new herd of bison in between the existing ones and, as a result, to increase the genetic diversity of the population and facilitate genetic exchange between herds;
  • Improve the European bison feeding basis in the expanded area;
  • Create a bison support unit as a system tool for population management;
  • Introduce measures to reduce bison damage to forests and crops;
  • Improve the safety of animals through the dissemination of information on their current habitat areas; and
  • Improve public awareness, so that friendly local community attitudes help the herds to develop, and to transfer positive patterns of attitude into new areas.
Project: European bison in Poland
Region: Area of West Pomeranian Voivodeship
Habitat types: Coniferous and mixed forests, heathlands and meadows.
Fauna (mega) species present: European bison, roe deer, red deer, European Mouflon, fallow deer, wild boar, wolf
Type of project: Large-scale rehabilitations of natural processes, including herbivores, carnivores and/or scavengers being present, Methods and experiences to allow natural numbers and densities of native, wild or rewilded species, Pilot projects focusing on supporting key wildlife species being present in more natural densities, showing their role in the ecosystem, Re-introductions / re-stockings of locally extinct or rare key wildlife species, or breeding of such species with the goal to release them into the wild, Successful agreements with forestry entities about changing forestry practises into more nature-based management systems, Successful examples of initiatives that address to reduce human-wildlife conflict, and show tangible benefits / reduced problems for the local people
Aim and vision: Creation a model of an endangered species population management in the area of intensive economic use; growth of bison population and the acreage of bison habitat in northwestern Poland.
Permanent and non-confrontational existence of wild bison population in the area of intensive economic use.
Uniqueness of the project: Great development of European bison population in north-western Poland proves that these big mammals can coexist with a human in lands of intensive exploitation. Big herd of bison existing in the Drawsko military training area shows that this place act as nature reserve for animals.
Other activities: Education
Results you aim to accomplish in 10 years from now on: 1. The increase in the population by at least 80 individuals.
2. The increase of the area of the Western Pomerania bison by at least 30%.
3. The provision of 145,12 hectares of meadows, 48.49 hectares of food plots and 2 hectares of orchards for the European bison.
4. The creation of 22 new feeders for bison and the renovation of the 10 existing ones.
5. The creation of the Bison Support Unit – a unit provided with the staff and equipment necessary to handle the European bison population in Northwestern Poland during the project and after its completion.
6. The creation of two points storing food for bison, ensuring the storage of large amounts of food without loss and its efficient loading and distribution.
Results so far: Growth of the European bison population in north-western Poland from 110 individuals at the beginning of the project, to 200 individuals at present. Creation of a new bison herd and initiate bison spreading to other areas. Building new 16 feeding racks for bison.
Inspirational value: Growth of the bison population while reducing the damage to agriculture thanks to actions connected with feeding the bison during winter season, removing the animals away from the valuable crops and reducing human wildlife conflicts.
Experience you would like to share: Bison management in the area of intensive economic use, raising public awareness and providing social education about the European bison.
Experience you would like to gain: Bison – human coexistence in the area of intensive economic use, bison dispersion and diversification
Map
Country
Poland
Start year
2014
Area type
Forest-grassland mosaic
Natural process
Natural grazing
Flagship species
Bison
European bison in Poland
European bison in Poland
The LIFE project in Poland has seen bison numbers in the north-west of the country nearly double from 110 to 200 individuals.
Western Pomeranian Natural Society

Western Pomeranian Nature Society

Western Pomeranian Nature Society

The European bison (Bison bonasus) is one of two extant species of bison, alongside the American bison. It once ranged throughout the lowlands of Europe, with the last wild populations, in Poland’s Białowieża forest and the northern Caucasus, becoming extinct by 1927. They have since been reintroduced from captivity into several European countries, with all animals being descendants of the Białowieża or lowland European bison. Today, in the West Pomeranian region, the population of European bison is small, isolated and of low genetic diversity. Furthermore, growth in the population takes place without a corresponding increase in the area of occurrence, with low social acceptance being a key factor blocking the growth and expansion of the population.

The project is addressing the problems of low genetic diversity and population growth of European bison in and between Natura 2000 network sites in north-western Poland. The main objectives are to create a model for bison population management in an area of intensive human economic activity, and to increase the European bison population from the existing 110 to at least 190 individuals. The project is also initiating a corresponding increase in the area for bison habitat by at least 30%, with a decrease in the average seasonal bison density per area unit. The project’s specific objectives are to:

  • Create a new herd of bison in between the existing ones and, as a result, to increase the genetic diversity of the population and facilitate genetic exchange between herds;
  • Improve the European bison feeding basis in the expanded area;
  • Create a bison support unit as a system tool for population management;
  • Introduce measures to reduce bison damage to forests and crops;
  • Improve the safety of animals through the dissemination of information on their current habitat areas; and
  • Improve public awareness, so that friendly local community attitudes help the herds to develop, and to transfer positive patterns of attitude into new areas.
Map
Country
Poland
Start year
2014
Area type
Forest-grassland mosaic
Natural process
Natural grazing
Flagship species
Bison
Specification
Project: European bison in Poland
Region: Area of West Pomeranian Voivodeship
Habitat types: Coniferous and mixed forests, heathlands and meadows.
Fauna (mega) species present: European bison, roe deer, red deer, European Mouflon, fallow deer, wild boar, wolf
Description
Type of project: Large-scale rehabilitations of natural processes, including herbivores, carnivores and/or scavengers being present, Methods and experiences to allow natural numbers and densities of native, wild or rewilded species, Pilot projects focusing on supporting key wildlife species being present in more natural densities, showing their role in the ecosystem, Re-introductions / re-stockings of locally extinct or rare key wildlife species, or breeding of such species with the goal to release them into the wild, Successful agreements with forestry entities about changing forestry practises into more nature-based management systems, Successful examples of initiatives that address to reduce human-wildlife conflict, and show tangible benefits / reduced problems for the local people
Aim and vision: Creation a model of an endangered species population management in the area of intensive economic use; growth of bison population and the acreage of bison habitat in northwestern Poland.
Permanent and non-confrontational existence of wild bison population in the area of intensive economic use.
Uniqueness of the project: Great development of European bison population in north-western Poland proves that these big mammals can coexist with a human in lands of intensive exploitation. Big herd of bison existing in the Drawsko military training area shows that this place act as nature reserve for animals.
Other activities: Education
Achievements
Results you aim to accomplish in 10 years from now on: 1. The increase in the population by at least 80 individuals.
2. The increase of the area of the Western Pomerania bison by at least 30%.
3. The provision of 145,12 hectares of meadows, 48.49 hectares of food plots and 2 hectares of orchards for the European bison.
4. The creation of 22 new feeders for bison and the renovation of the 10 existing ones.
5. The creation of the Bison Support Unit – a unit provided with the staff and equipment necessary to handle the European bison population in Northwestern Poland during the project and after its completion.
6. The creation of two points storing food for bison, ensuring the storage of large amounts of food without loss and its efficient loading and distribution.
Results so far: Growth of the European bison population in north-western Poland from 110 individuals at the beginning of the project, to 200 individuals at present. Creation of a new bison herd and initiate bison spreading to other areas. Building new 16 feeding racks for bison.
Exchange
Inspirational value: Growth of the bison population while reducing the damage to agriculture thanks to actions connected with feeding the bison during winter season, removing the animals away from the valuable crops and reducing human wildlife conflicts.
Experience you would like to share: Bison management in the area of intensive economic use, raising public awareness and providing social education about the European bison.
Experience you would like to gain: Bison – human coexistence in the area of intensive economic use, bison dispersion and diversification
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