Wildville- March 2017

EUROPEAN BISON

Bison are symbols of the American Midwest, but few people know that there are also bison roaming through the forests of Poland as well. Originally, the European bison lived in forests all over Europe from Russia to Sweden. Unfortunately, the wild European bison were hunted to extinction in 1927. Less than 50 existed, and they were all in zoos. However, these last 50 were used to create new wild herds that have been growing ever since. The European bison are smaller than American bison at about 7-10 feet long. While they are brown and covered in shaggy hair, the American bison has longer hair. Another big di erence between the bison is their diet. The American bison tend to graze on grasses. European bison will eat foliage from trees and even bark.

  • The European bison is also called the Wisent.
  • Females usually weigh between 660-1190 pounds.
  • Males usually weigh between 880-2028 pounds.
  • The usually live around 25 years.
  • European bison are now found in Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Latvia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova and Spain.
  • Humans are the bison’s only natural predators.
  • Occasionally, a brown bear might prey on a weak or sick bison.

The only reason the European bison survived is because of some of the rst wildlife protection programs. At first, all the bison in the Bialowieza Forest on the Polish border were protected because they were declared property of the Polish kings. Anyone who illegally killed the bison would be punished with death. Now, all living European bison are descended from the ones protected in this forest. It is wonderful that the European bison survived, but because they all come from only a few ancestors, it has a ected their genes. They are more likely to get dangerous diseases.

For more information, visit the following sites: