March 12, 2014

Bison project loses three bison bulls

Last week, three bison bulls have died in Kraansvlak. The three bulls had been added to the herd from France in 2013 to bring new blood in the herd. The cause of death is being examined. The remaining animals are in good shape, especially considering the time of year.

The transport from France had been carefully prepared. They were treated as a precaution to prepare them as good as possible for a life in the Dutch dunes. After a period in a separate terrain to acclimatise, they were successfully integrated into the main herd. The last few months had shown that the animals got used to their new living conditions. The bulls were frequently seen together with the other bulls and occasionally joined the herd of cows and youngsters. This is known behaviour for bison bulls.

The shape of the three bulls was getting less towards the end of the winter period. This was reason to monitor them more closely. One of the bulls was getting very weak at the end of February. He died within a week. The shape of the remaining bulls was also getting worse so measures had to be taken. We have tried to get them in better shape for days on end. They were fed with special food and water and treated by the project's veterinarian. It didn’t help and unfortunately both of them died.

Extra care for the remaining herd wasn’t necessary. The annual check-up was held on March 11th. Workers of the project as well as external advisers concluded that the remaining animals were in good shape for the time of year. There are no worries about the health of the animals, but they are closely monitored as always in this time of year.

To know more about the cause of death, the animals were dissected. We are currently awaiting the results of several examinations. This research is not only important for the project of Kraansvlak, but other projects can also benefit from the results. It is especially valuable for projects were bison will be in- or exported. The European bison is still an endangered species and needs every help it can get to repopulate the European mainland.

Foto's

Bison in the Kraansvlak dune area. Photo: Ruud Maaskant