Do we still need more wisents in Poland?
Keywords:European bison, Polish population, numbers, future acceptation
Following the rapid growth of wisent (European bison) Bison bonasus L. population in Poland from 783 animals in 2001 to 2603 in 2022, the question has appeared whether the country with the largest population of this species in the world, may still accept further increase of its numbers. Problems that are connected with the presence of free ranging wisents belong to three categories: eeconomical – damages to agriculture and forestry, public safety – traffic accidents and aggressive individuals, and the health risk – possible transmission of pathogens to the livestock. However there also several benefits resulting from the existence of wisents in the wild. The species is an important component of natural ecosystems, its existence is an excellent example of successful conservation, the wisent is an attractive symbol for educational programs, and its growing populations can be a source of animals for further reintroductions. Possible solutions of the problem include: mitigation of economic costs and slowing down the population growth, and a dispersal of wisent herds into suitable habitat patches, allowing to manage them as metapopulation. Therefore, further growth of wisent population in Poland is still acceptable, however, the conservation and management of this species in the future have to be focused upon its social acceptation and avoiding possible fields of conflict.
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