About one third of the worlds bison population lives Poland; there are nearly 2,000 of them in Poland, Deputy Minister of Environment and Chief Nature Conservation Officer Małgorzata Golińska said in an interview with PAP.
The official was speaking ahead of Wednesdays forum on the subject of bison protection in Poland, organised by the Ministry of the Environment.
"I want to calm everyone down right away, nothing bad is happening with Polish bison," said the Deputy Minister of Environment. "On the contrary, we have many reasons to be proud. But the protection of bison brings along with it many challenges. That is why we’ve invited representatives of non-governmental organisations, local government officials, farmers, scientists and practitioners who have contact with bison on a daily basis, to the forum," she added.
"We’ve organised this forum for two reasons. The first is a round anniversary: in the year that Poland is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its regaining independence, we are celebrating the 95th anniversary of the establishment - on the initiative of a Polish zoologist and delegate to the International Congress of Nature Conservation, Jan Sztolcman - of the International Society for the Protection of Bison. Ninety years ago, Poland joined this society. Despite the difficult social conditions that existed at that time, and in particular the poor economic conditions, the Polish government noticed the need for the restitution and protection of the bison," Golińska stated.
"The second reason for organising the forum is the growing bison population in Poland. As a protected species, it still needs further assistance. Also, as more and more bison are being introduced, there are also challenges. I hope that the forum will start a broad substantive discussion on these challenges and the protection of the bison," she continued.
According to the Chief Nature Conservation Officer, there are nearly 6,500 bison in the world, of which almost 1,900 live in Poland. "It can be said that one-third of the worlds bison population lives in our country. According to precise data for 2017, there were 1,873 European bison living in free and closed herds," she reported.
Golińska noted that the largest herd of over 600 bison lives in the Białowieża Forest (northeastern Poland).
"The issues of the capacity of the environment, or attempts to thin out the Polish bison population are just some of the challenges we face, especially in Podlasie (the northeastern Podlaskie province - PAP), because it is causing more and more damage to the crops of farmers. For years, with the help of the State Forests, we have been trying to dilute the bison herd, especially in the Białowieża Forest. Recently, we released a few bison in the Augustowska Primeval Forest, they are doing quite well there right now," she said.
Golińska also stated that bison are not immune to disease and that the higher concentration of bison in one place, the greater the risk of dangerous and deadly diseases of bison, such as tuberculosis, which may even eliminate the entire herd. As such, it may be necessary to create a professional Bison Gene Bank.
In closing, Golińska emphasised that the director general of the State Forests, in consultation with the Ministry of the Environment has, for the moment, ceased the issuance of permits for the hunting of bison. (PAP)
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