Bringing back European bison

Researchers are uncovering more information about the reason for their decline in the first place

After uncovering the reasons for the near-extinction of bison in Europe, researchers think they have some clues for successfully increasing populations there. Herds of European bison (Bison bonasus) used to roam Europe until 1927 when they became extinct in the wild. Since then, efforts to reestablish the species have resulted in 7,300 free-ranging bison, but those reintroductions were done without a good understanding of the species on the continent. In a study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B Biological Sciences, scientists used fossil evidence, ancient DNA and modeling to determine what caused the European bison to initially decline. They found that environmental change and hunting by humans were the main causes. Using this information, they determined areas most suitable for the species today.

Read the study in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B Biological Sciences.  

Header Image: Free-ranging European bison in Białowieża Forest, Poland. Credit: Rafał Kowalczyk