History of free living population of European bison in north-western Poland

The first free herd of European bison in the Western Pomerania was created on February 29, 1980 by Professor Richard Graczyk. Four bulls and four cows of the lowland line were thenbrought from the Bialowieza Forest and relocated to an acclimatisation enclosure of approximately 50 hectares, located in the Wałcz Forestry, near the town of Ostrowiec. Bisons remained in enclousre for approxmately 5 months, and then were released into the wild. Roughly 10 years after bringing, bison gradually moved into the Forestry Miroslawiec where they are today. For a quarter century herd functioned without  fresh blood influx“, resulting in decreased fertility and increased the average age of individuals. In the autumn of 2005 herd was suppliedwith another 8 individuals of the lowland line within the project “Active protection of bison in Western Pomerania which was intended to increase the genetic diversity of the herd.“Replenishing Blood improved low birth rate recorded in 2003-2005 and stopped regression in number of bisons. Gradually, the stock started to increase from year to year by increasing the number of new calves. In 2005, the herd numbered 22 individuals,  in 2006 and in 2010 already 30 and 55 respectively. In 2013 there were counted in turn 78 bison, including 14 calves.The upward trend is still being continued, because in 2014 there were counted 86 individuals in Miroslawiec herd.

Since 2008 there exists second herd of wild bisons in Western Pomerania , as a result of the project by the Western Pomeranian Nature Society. Then there were brought  8 individuals  to two acclimatisation enclosures each located in Dobrzany and Łobez forest inspectorates. In the 10 months since the release from the enclosures bisons merged into one group, which nowresides in Forest District Drawsko within military training ground. In the starting year  of LIFE project (2014)   herd size was estimated to be about 70 individuals.

LIFE project aims to increasing the overall  Westpomeranian  population to a minimum of 190  individuals and  creating a new herd between Drawsko and Miroslawiec home range areas, so in 2015 exist third herd initiative Western Pomeranian Nature Society. A few bisons with herd in Miroslawiec and Drawsko move to region forester’s lodge Jalowcowka in a area Forest District Drawsko. On this time herd have 12 bisons – 10 cows or 2 bulls.

The number of free living bison in Western Pomerania half a year after the start of the LIFE project (January 2015) therefore fluctuated around 160 individuals.