NEWS
 

The Făgăraș Mountains become home for the bison – the first release into the wild

 
 

In May we released the first eight bison into the wild, within the programme for the reintroduction of bison into the Făgăraș Mountains, in the area of Pecineagu Lake.

Video

Last autumn we brought back the first bison to the Făgăraș Mountains, after more than 200 years since their disappearance from the central forests of Romania. This formed part of the LIFE Carpathia project, funded by the European Commission through the LIFE programme and co-funded by the Endangered Landscapes Programme. These bison came from a reservation in Germany and the Carpathian Mountains in Poland.
During the first months, the bison were constantly monitored in a special quarantine enclosure, where relevant analyses and treatments were carried out, in accordance with the requirements of the legislation in force. Then they were released into a larger acclimatization enclosure, where they had the opportunity to adapt more easily to the environment (such as to temperature, relief, vegetation, predators, etc.).

With the release of the bison into the wild this month, a missing link in the trophic chain of the area is complete. We will carry out measures to monitor the bison in order to check their degree of adaptability, but also to prevent any unexpected encounters with people from neighbouring communities. As such, any information related to the activity and actions of the new inhabitants of the Făgăraș Mountains in nature is useful and people are encouraged to contact the Foundation through its representative, Adrian Aldea (a.aldea@carpathia.org), biologist and coordinator of this project.
According to a sociological study conducted during 2019 by Canadian researchers in the targeted areas, most respondents expressed a positive opinion about the reintroduction of the bison into the Făgăraș Mountains. They were aware of the importance of the species for nature and for the development of tourism in the area and agreed that future generations would be supportive of such an important species in Romania’s forests.

Two additional areas for the reintroduction of bison in the Făgăraș Mountains

According to the feasibility study, 100 bison are needed to ensure the success of reintroducing such a vulnerable species, so they can survive and multiply. Thus, in order to ensure all the necessary conditions are met, the reintroduction process is carried out in three areas (with a minimum of 30 individuals in each area) between which bison can move and migrate, facilitating over time the meeting of individuals from the three groups.
The plan is to have an initial group of at least 10 specimens in each area and later, to annually supplement it with small groups of five specimens, until we reach about 30 specimens in each location.
In recent months, we have been preparing for the next stage, introducing bison into the second area, in Lerești, Argeș County. We will then establish a third area in the Făgăraș Mountains, according to the reintroduction strategy. In the autumn of 2020, the Foundation plans to bring bison into these two new areas.

This complex process would not have been possible without the support of the local authorities in Rucăr and Lerești, the relevant regional authorities, the Argeș Environmental Protection Agency and the Argeș Veterinary Sanitary and Food Safety Directorate and, last but not least, the managers of neighbouring hunting areas.
Bison, symbol and national value
The bison was and remains a symbol of Romania. Strong and majestic, this animal, present in our national history and folklore, has been prized by Romanians for hundreds of years. The reasons are partly pragmatic: bison have great economic potential; through the role they play in the development of local tourism based on natural observation. The reintroduction of the bison is not only a matter of repairing the environmental mistakes of the past, or a case of modern biodiversity conservation, but is also an excellent example of how nature conservation can help local communities thrive and develop.
Consequently, in order to support the development of tourism in the area, we plan in the future to build a series of visitor centres for tourists who want to know the story of the bison, especially those from the Făgăraș Mountains.
Also, from a natural point of view, as the number of bison stabilises, biodiversity will benefit directly: the meadows will be maintained by grazing bison and forests will acquire a better natural structure, at the same time benefitting the deer.

About the project
The program of populating the Făgăraș Mountains with bison is realized within the project “Creation of a Wilderness Reserve in the Southern Carpathian Mountains, Romania”. The main purpose of the project is the restoration of the degraded habitats and the application of conservation measures over an area large enough to allow natural processes to take place, to benefit biodiversity and local communities.
Financial support from: The European Commission through the LIFE Nature program (www.ec.europa.eu) and the Arcadia Foundation through the ELP program (Endangered Landscapes Program, www.endangeredlandscapes.org).
The content of this material does not necessarily represent the official position of the European Union.