Start page arrow The main refuge of the bison
The Bia這wie瘸 Forest - the main refuge of the bison Print

After the World War II, the Bia這wie瘸 Forest was divided with the national border. The western part made part of Poland and the eastern part was attributed to Belarus. The breeding reserves with the surviving 17 bison were located in the Polish part.

The successful development of the breeding process allowed for the restoration of the bison to its natural environment. The first bison left the reserve in 1952. In the following years, more specimens were released. Until 1966, in total 38 bison were released. The first observation of the released animals were related with the evaluation of the adaptation process to living in natural conditions. It is also worth remembering that bison were living in captivity for five generations. Adaptation process was not always successful. Very frequently, bison preferred captivity and a full trough than free life and the hardship of finding food themselves. The free roaming life of the bison was not marked by the clatter of buckets indicating the time for morning and evening feeding, but rather by the natural processes. The first calf was born in the Bia這wie瘸 Forest in 1957. The expansion of the population was very rapid until the beginning of the 70ties. In 1971, the population had 200 specimens. In the same year, the size of the population was subject to adjustment.  Bison were captured and transported to various breeding centres. After the World War II, 430 bison were captured and removed from the Bia這wie瘸 Forest. bison were transported to all breeding centres in Poland and most of such centres in Europe. Transportation of the bison to the Belarusian part of the Bia這wie瘸 Forest was critical. This in turns allowed for the creation of the second, free roaming population in the Bia這wie瘸 Forest. The first bison left the reserves in that region in 1953. Both herds were expanding in parallel, though in isolation caused by the fact that both living habitats were isolated geographically. Only few bulls ever crossed the border. In 1980, on the Belarusian side a new fence was constructed along the border, which in turns created an artificial barrier not only for bison but also for other animals living in the Bia這wie瘸 Forest. The size of the bison population in the Belarusian part of the Bia這wie瘸 Forest in 1990 reached the maximum size of 315 specimens. In the following years, it was decreased. At the end of 1998, there were in total 238 specimens. In the Polish part of the Bia這wie瘸 Forest, the maximum number of bison reached in 2009 the value of 456 specimens. 

In the whole area of the Bia這wie瘸 Forest in 2009, there were in total ca 800 bison. It is the largest free roaming bison population living in a single forest complex. Stock taking of the bison in the Bia這wie瘸 Forest takes place every year during winter time, usually after the new year and features counting all the specimens living in the winter mainstays in the division into the following age – sex groups. Males (bulls) and females (cows) aged 4 or more, young animals (aged 2 - 3) and calves (aged up to 1).

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