New release of European bison in The Netherlands

This Monday, the Netherlands witnessed the start of a new bison grazing project. The first four animals were released in the Maashorst nature reserve in the south-eastern part of the country (Province of Noord-Brabant) where ultimately a starting herd of of 11 animals will roam a landscape of at least 1,500 hectares of forests, grasslands, shrubs and sand dunes. The animals are all part of the European Wildlife Bank.

European bison release in the Maashorst nature reserve, The Netherlands.

European bison release in the Maashorst nature reserve, The Netherlands.
Bob Luijks / ARK Nature

The Maashorst is the second nature reserve in the country that has European bison, after the successful reintroduction in the Kraansvlak nature reserve in the province of Noord-Holland in 2007 . This Monday, the animals were released in a 200 hectare large acclimatisation zone, witnessed by representatives of local municipalities, State Forest Service, the province of Noord-Brabant, conservation organisations and local communities. To complete the starting herd, seven more animals will arrive from Kraansvlak and Germany during the coming days, making a total of three bulls and eight cows.

During the first few weeks, the acclimatisation enclosure will be closed for public, but after that there will be guided excursions in the area. Ultimately, the intention is that the public will have free access to the entire area where bison will roam.

One week before the release of the animals, a contract between Rewilding Europe and ARK Nature, one of the rewilding partners of Rewilding Europe, was signed putting the 11 bison as part of the European Wildlife Bank. In total, the European Wildlife Bank now holds 54 European bison, spread over 5 areas in 3 countries.

European bison in the 200 hectare large acclimatisation zone, Maashorst nature reserve, The Netherlands.

European bison in the 200 hectare large acclimatisation zone, Maashorst nature reserve, The Netherlands.
Bob Luijks / ARK Nature

The Maashorst is a rewilding initiative initiated by the State Forest Service and four municipalities, together with local conservationists and enthusiasts, and in close collaboration with the Province of Noord-Brabant and ARK Nature. Tauros and Exmoor already graze part of the reserve and more will arrive in the near future, which will make the area the first in Europe that has all the three larger herbivores grazing in one area.

Rewilding Europe would very much welcome the Maashorst soon to become part of the European Rewilding Network.

For more information about the Maashorst rewilding area, see http://www.allemaalmaashorst.nl (in Dutch only).

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