European bisons in the Borecka and Romincka forests
Majestic animals, once inhabiting the dense Masurian forests, can now be found in the Borecka Forest and – since spring this year – in the Romincka Forest. It is one of the few refuges of free-living European bison in the country.
Until the mid-17th century, in the Borecka Forest, European bison lived in natural conditions; unfortunately, as a result of poaching and destructive warfare, the population of these animals was systematically decimated, until the European bison became extinct, both here and throughout Poland.
The species was restored in 1956 with the colonization of the Borecka Forest with individuals from the Niepołomice reserve. They were animals with an admixture of Caucasian bison blood. In the years 1969-1972, the bison of the Białowieża-Caucasian line was replaced with lowland bison. Currently, the Borecka herd of bison numbers over 80 individuals – a large part of these animals live in the wild in the forests.
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In the spring of 2021, the Romincka Forest became another bison sanctuary. The new herd has a total of eight individuals: two bulls and six cows of different ages. Some of the animals were resettled from the Borecka Forest, and some from the Knyszyn Forest.
After a few weeks’ stay in the adaptive pen, the herd was released into the wild. Several cows were equipped with telemetry collars, allowing to track their paths. The project to settle bison in the Romincka Forest is told about in this video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJX2rJ6c5uc.
From the life of a bison
The bison is the largest land mammal in Europe – it can weigh over a ton. It lives for an average of 20-25 years. In summer, cows and calves form groups that are periodically joined by bulls – herds number an average of 13 individuals. Bulls are loners for most of the year, only sometimes forming male groups of several individuals.
The king of the forest has a healthy appetite – it can eat 60 kg of food a day. It prefers grasses and herbaceous plants. In winter, when snow makes it difficult to obtain food, bisons are fed with beetroot, haylage and hay.
Where can you meet the bison in Masuria?
We can meet the bison eye to eye in the show yard at the Breeding Center in Wolisko, 10 km from Kruklanki (Borecka Forest). From the beginning of May to the end of September, thanks to a special platform, you can admire the bison during the morning (at 9: 00-11: 00) or evening ( 16: 00-18: 00) feeding.
More information can be found on the website of the Borki Forest District: www.borki.bialystok.lasy.gov.pl/zagroda-pokazowa-zubrow/
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