European bison released into wild Carpathian range

May 18, 2014 by Georgeta Petrovici
European bison are released at a reserve in Armenis village, south-western Romania on May 17, 2014

Seventeen European bison were released in Romania on Saturday into the wild Carpathian mountain range, one of the largest reintroductions of the endangered mammal in Europe.

The animals which came from Sweden, Germany, Switzerland and Italy, were blessed by a local Orthodox priest in the southwestern village of Armenis, in the Tarcu mountains of the Southern Carpathians.

The event marked the return of Europe's largest herbivore in the Tarcu mountains 200 years after the last animals disappeared due to poaching.

"This is a very important day because usually we are used to losing species but today we are gaining a species in this area," Magor Csibi of the environmental group WWF told AFP.

The bison will first live in a re-wilding zone to learn necessary survival skills and also to form a solid social herd structure, the WWF and the Rewilding Europe group said.

In early September, these cousins of the American bison will be left completely in the wild where they will coexist with deer, wolves and bears, they said.

The European bison has recovered to a population of more than 5,000 after going extinct in the wild in the 1900s. But only 3,400 of them live in free or semi-free herds.

European bison are released at a reserve in Armenis village, south-western Romania on May 17, 2014

Decimated by hunters and the loss of their habitat, the European bison bounced back thanks to a large-scale breeding programme of the last survivors in captivity, whose offspring were reintroduced to the wild in areas of central and eastern Europe.

Poland now counts the largest population of bison in Europe with more than 1,300 animals, according to the Warsaw-based European Bison Conservation Center.

In the long run, Rewilding Europe and the WWF hope to see the herd of the Tarcu Mountains grow to 500 animals.

"Increasing the number of bison is important, not only for the survival of the species, but also for biodiversity reasons," they said.

In southeast France, the reintroduction of the bison has led to an increase in biodiversity.

At Haut-Thorenc, about an hour from the French Riviera, the number of plant species has risen from seven to 40 on the terrain where are grazing.

European bisons are released at a reserve in Armenis village, south-western Romania on May 17, 2014

But in Romania, the second-poorest country in the European Union after Bulgaria, the reintroduction is also meant to boost the economy.

A visitor centre and rangers jobs will be created in this remote mountainous area where many young people are leaving in search of jobs.

"I was unemployed and now I am a ranger which means a steady job to sustain my family. This project has a positive impact on our community as a whole", Ilie Hurduzeu, a 32 year-old father of two, told AFP.

He and his colleagues will be in charge of alerting the authorities in case of poaching.

But the head of the forest administration in the county, Stefan Stanescu, was optimistic: "I am sure that even poachers will be proud to see these endangered animals here and that they will protect them".

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User comments : 15

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Egleton
5 / 5 (4) May 18, 2014
My ancestors thank you.
Sinister1812
5 / 5 (3) May 18, 2014
Great work! Putting them back in their rightful place.

Here's hoping rednecks don't go out and shoot them.
Sinister1812
5 / 5 (1) May 18, 2014
They should use populations of these too
http://en.wikiped...k_cattle
http://en.wikiped...ck_Horse
ubavontuba
5 / 5 (2) May 18, 2014
Do they normally have such distinctive eyebrows, as in the second image?
Shootist
1 / 5 (3) May 18, 2014
good. even enviro-weenies can make a difference (as long as they're kept tightly leashed).
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (1) May 18, 2014
Do they normally have such distinctive eyebrows
@uba
interesting.
this might be common of the bison, as it also shows up on the American buffalo, but it is not as distinct to see color wise: https://en.wikipe...ison.jpg
this European Bison pic here has the eyebrow but the color is not distinct as in the pics here on phys.org: https://en.wikipe...758).jpg
a quick search of pictures as well as this reference: https://en.wikipe...ki/Bison makes it appear that the eyebrow that is so noticeable in the pics is common to the bison, which may mean that either the photographer got a light source that really brings out the brow, or that it just sometimes appears pronounced. I can see it in pics, but not as sharply defined as above
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (1) May 18, 2014
Do they normally have such distinctive eyebrows, as in the second image?
@uba
if you will look here http://www.ethnot...n-bison/ this picture is an Indian Bison, and the thick "bushy" brow is not apparent, although the underlying skeletal structure (superciliary arches)* is similar to the other bison.
*being the frontal or supraorbital arch, - ridge or - torus (or - tori to refer to the plural, as the ridge is usually seen as a pair), or arcus superciliaris

after searching bison faces (see link below) it may well just be a light/shadow thing from the photographer in conjunction with the superciliary arches.
https://www.googl...imgdii=_

ubavontuba
5 / 5 (1) May 18, 2014
Do they normally have such distinctive eyebrows
@uba
interesting.
this might be common of the bison, as it also shows up on the American buffalo, but it is not as distinct to see color wise: https://en.wikipe...ison.jpg makes it appear that the eyebrow that is so noticeable in the pics is common to the bison, which may mean that either the photographer got a light source that really brings out the brow, or that it just sometimes appears pronounced. I can see it in pics, but not as sharply defined as above
Thanks Capt. S.. Those are excellent image references.

I also did an image search before asking the question, and as you have noticed, they do not appear normally so pronounced. However, the bison in the article appear to be in a summer coat, so I wonder if that might have something to do with it. One might presume from the readily available online images that photographers may prefer winter coat images?

Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (1) May 19, 2014
the bison in the article appear to be in a summer coat, so I wonder if that might have something to do with it. One might presume from the readily available online images that photographers may prefer winter coat images?
@uba
good point.
If you happen to come across a link showing the difference between the summer and winter coats, let me know. especially if it specifies color changes or details certain enhanced growth other than an overall coat thickening.

I will continue to browse and look... the only one I've had any dealings with regularly (and within multiple seasons) is the American buffalo... they have farms around here with large herds, and are much tastier than beef.

almost all taxonomic references specify skeletal indicators or obvious visual traits and practically ignore the coat other than cursory descriptors (like at wiki). Do you know any Zoologists?

Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (1) May 19, 2014
and as you have noticed, they do not appear normally so pronounced
@uba
after searching for "Seasonal dimorphism in Bison" as well as looking at pictures of Bison from different seasons, I can only come to the same conclusions thus far: the underlying skeletal structure is pronounced in Bison but I've yet to find some call-out of specific color change due to seasonal changes, or to find specific reference to the eye-brow or prominent bushy growth above the eye other than this
Short eyelashes compared to cattle help keep their eye lids from accumulating ice
. http://library.sa...ison.htm
I will see if Lott or Guthrie (mentioned above in link) have anything more specific to add. they are referenced for the Pelage so perhaps they specify color/other difference in facial hair.
I am not done, however, and will continue to look... let me know if you come across anything.
till then, if you are interested:
http://www.lhnet....n-bison/

Porgie
5 / 5 (2) May 19, 2014
Excellent plan. Its very good to see an attempt at repopulation of these worthy beasts. It keeps alive a genetic strain that will be needed for future generations. It may also save domestic cattle. Wild beasts develop genetic protections and innate strengths that domestics do not have.
ubavontuba
5 / 5 (1) May 19, 2014
If you happen to come across a link showing the difference between the summer and winter coats, let me know. especially if it specifies color changes or details certain enhanced growth other than an overall coat thickening.
I found lots of references to them having a thick brown coat in the winter, and a lighter brown coat in the summer, but nothing on eyebrow color.

http://animaldive...bonasus/

http://www.pdf-pa...t_id=338]http://www.pdf-pa...t_id=338[/url]

http://www.pdf-pa...t_id=338]http://www.pdf-pa...t_id=338[/url]

I magnified the second photo and found the focus around the eye appears different than the rest of the face. Perhaps the photo is enhanced?

ubavontuba
5 / 5 (1) May 19, 2014
Captain Stumpy
not rated yet May 20, 2014
I found lots of references to them having a thick brown coat in the winter, and a lighter brown coat in the summer, but nothing on eyebrow color
@Uba
yeah, pretty much the same here. You would think that if the eyebrow consistently looked different (especially that noticeable, like you noticed above) then it would be specifically addressed.
I've found nothing either
I magnified the second photo and found the focus around the eye appears different than the rest of the face. Perhaps the photo is enhanced?
this would really not surprise me considering the fact that most professional photographers tend to "clean up" their photo's. Many women's photo's tend to be highly manipulated in magazines, why not animal pictures. I blew up the second photo above and noticed that it is not as pixelated around the eye as the rest of the face... is that what you saw as well? Good catch.

I wonder why, though?
Sinister1812
not rated yet May 20, 2014
Excellent plan. Its very good to see an attempt at repopulation of these worthy beasts. It keeps alive a genetic strain that will be needed for future generations. It may also save domestic cattle. Wild beasts develop genetic protections and innate strengths that domestics do not have.


That's why they should be released into the wild. They will start to look and act like their wild ancestors eventually.