World Wildlife Fund is filing charges
The World Wildlife Fund says it will be filing charges against German officials who shot a wild bison believed to be the first of its kind spotted in the country in over 250 years.
Local officials deemed the creature a threat to community safety and ordered it to be killed.
“Giving permission to shoot a strongly protected animal without a clear potential threat is a criminal offence,” Chris Heinrich, a WWF board member said in a statement.
“After more than 250 years a wild bison had been spotted again in Germany and all the authorities could think to do is shoot it.”
WWF says on its website that the “species-specific behaviour of [bison] is not a threat to humans”, adding there have been “successful projects with wild-living [bison] both in Poland and now in Germany”.
“The shooting is unfortunately also an expression of the helplessness of the authorities, how they should deal with wild animals,” Mr Heinrich added.
“There is a lack of professional trained staff in the area.”
It is believed the bison made its way to Germany from Poland’s Ujście Warty National Park, which sits on the border between the two countries.
The European bison, the largest herbivore on the continent, is identified as a vulnerable species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List.
The bison was once widespread throughout Europe, but by the end of the 19th century, only two populations of the bison survived in the Białowieża Forest and the western Caucasus mountains.
The animal was deemed extinct in the wild by 1927, though conservation efforts have reintroduced the species to countries including Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia and Slovakia.
Captive populations of the European bison can be found in 30 countries worldwide, the IUCN says.