In 2019, Poland is celebrating the 90th anniversary of the return of the European bison. The European bison is the largest mammal on land in Europe, and present in several populations. Many conservationists and researchers continue their work to secure the future of this species. The Polish General Director of the Environmental Protection has a different point of view, as Greenpeace Poland states. With the Director’s latest approval, Poland will kill 40 bison this year.
Please also read: Exclusive interview with a European bison
A returning challenge
The consent for killing 40 bison regards the individuals as unwanted for several reasons. Some individuals are supposedly carrying diseases, while others are perfectly healthy. In other cases, the population size is apparently to big. It is not the first time that Poland is trying to reduce the number of bison. In 2017 and 2018, there was a lot of international attention demanding to stop the bison hunt. Greenpeace Poland even published a thorough report alongside a petition with over 80 000 signatures.
Killing as last resort
Back then, Poland wanted for example to kill 10 bison in the Borki Primeval Forest, as the population of 111 individuals exceeded the limit of 95 that was set by authorities. The Polish Ministry of Environment started a discussion on the status of the bison in response to Greenpeace’ actions early 2018. So far, no major changes occurred and unlawful hunting practices continue. In fact, there are even hunting advertisements on the internet, promoting the bison hunt in Poland. According to the Environmental Protection office, killing bison is the only solution. Opponents do not share the view that killing is the only solution. Also according to regulations, all other means must be implemented, before killing can be used as last resort.
Nature under pressure
A big bison population is residing in Bialowieza Forest, which is also facing large pressures. Last years, the EU threatened to fine Poland for illegal logging operations in protected old-growth parts of the forest. The European Court of Justice declared the logging unlawful, as the excuse of preventive bark-beetle control was incorrect.