August 21, 2014

Unique path open for hikers

On Friday 29th of August the Bison Trail in the dunes of Zuid-Kennemerland will be officially opened. It will be open to the public daily from 10:00h till 17:00h, starting August 30th. Hikers will be able to see the only Dutch wild living herd of bison. The opportunity to see these animals in half open dune landscape is unique in Western Europe.

The Bison Trail runs through the whole Western part of Kraansvlak; a part of Kennemerduinen that is normally closed to the public. The special trail has a length of about 3 kilometres, is marked with yellow-capped poles and is opened daily, except during the breeding season.

Seven years of experience have taught the project partners PWN and ARK Nature that the bison are alert, but not aggressive towards humans, provided that they are treated with respect. This means that visitors need to maintain a minimal distance of 50 metres. The Bison Trail is a fixed hiking trail across the dune landscape partially through rough terrain. For this reason, the trail is not suitable for people with reduced mobility.

The wisent or European bison is an endangered species. There are about 5000 bison alive today of which less than 3500 in the wild. In 2007 and 2008 PWN and ARK brought a total of 6 bison from Poland to the Netherlands and introduced them into the Kraansvlak, a terrain in the dunes near Zandvoort. They help to keep the dunes from overgrowing with their specific (feeding) habits in order for plants and animals, native to the dunes, to get the opportunity to settle and expand their population.

The herd is at home at Kraansvlak and produces calves every year. The size of the herd has grown to 19 animals. They are all registered in the pedigree of European bison which is kept in Poland.

Kraansvlak is about 300 hectares and the herd is frequently found in the western part of the terrain near the Bison Trail. The location of the herd can be found on the website, due to the fact that one of the animals has a collar equipped with a transmitter. That, however, does not guarantee that the animals will show themselves. Nevertheless, walking the trail makes it possible to enjoy this unique part of nature.


Bison at the Bison Trail. Photo: Esther Rodriguez