New Year Rescue of Bison Calf from Possible Poachers | WWF
New Year Rescue of Bison Calf from Possible Poachers

Posted on 13 January 2020

The calf was freed after just a few hours and returned to his mother.
The New Year began with some excitement for the rangers in the Țarcu Mountains when they discovered a young bison trapped in some wire probably left by a poacher near the village of Rusca. Born to parents reintroduced to the area through the LIFE Bison Project, the calf was less than a year old.

Thanks to some exemplary mobilisation, the calf was freed after just a few hours and returned to his mother, who was nearby together with five other bison. The calf was found at around 2pm by WWF- Romania rangers Daniel Hurduzeu and Matei Adrian Miculescu, who were monitoring bison activity in the field. They immediately informed the police, the local environmental office and the hunting administration. Under police supervision, veterinarian Ciprian Hodor tranquilised the calf and the team were able to release it. Blood samples taken before the release will be sent to the Senckenburg Nature Museum in Frankfurt for DNA testing. Since the calf was born in the wild, the test will help determine the parents.

The rescue operation lasted no more than four hours, and by early evening the youngster was awake again and in the company of fellow bison. The rangers continue to check on the well-eibng of the calf and the group. With possible poaching suspected, the local police department will open a criminal file to investigate the incident.

The EU Life Bison Project
WWF Central and Eastern Europe and Rewilding Europe aim to establish a wild bison population that is demographically and genetically viable, by reintroducing 100 individuals in the Țarcu Mountains and Poiana Ruscă Natura 2000 sites in south-western Romania, where one of the largest wilderness areas in Europe survives. Bison bonasus, the largest land mammal in Europe, is a key species for preserving wilderness strongholds. The bison’s browsing ability in the search of food helps maintain a mosaic of forested areas and grasslands, a landscape which is highly valuable from an ecological point view, with its diversity and abundance of species and natural resilience in the face of climate challenges.

Moreover, the bison is a species that, if successfully re-introduced and its habitat actively preserved across the entire Carpathian Mountains, will help maintain ecological corridors on a large scale, allowing for species migration, be it the bison itself or other large carnivores such as the brown bear, the wolf or lynx. It needs large areas of prime quality natural environment, with very little or no human disturbance, which also allows for other wildlife species to thrive.

Re-introducing the bison to Natura 2000 sites in the Tarcu Mountains and Poiana Ruscă Mountains of Romania is in line with recommendations made in the IUCN Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan for the European Bison; which was the outcome of the workshop organised by the Large Herbivore Foundation on Bison Conservation in the Carpathians in 2004; and this is also in accordance with the Natura 2000 policy (EU Habitats Directive) to designate bison as a priority species for Natura 2000 sites.

The European bison is one of the most threatened large mammals in the world, and it is protected at European level.

For more information:
Madalina Corciu
Project Communication Coordinator,
WWF-Romania
Bison calf freed from wire probably left by a poacher near the village of Rusca, Romania
© WWF-Romania
Veterinarian Ciprian Hodor tranquilised the calf and the team were able to release it.
© WWF-Romania
Rangers continue to check on the well-being of the calf and the group.
© WWF-Romania