Wild Bison Return to the UK for the First Time in 6000 Years

July 20, 2020 at 2:45 am

Conservationists are repopulating England with bison to restore biodiversity

Environmentalist groups have joined together in an effort to restore wild bison to the United Kingdom.

While typically thought of as a Native American animal, bison also used to roam the United Kingdom. They were just wiped out and replaced by domesticated cattle much earlier there than in the United States – 6000 years ago rather than 200.

Realizing how important the species is to creating bio-diverse, natural ecosystems the Kent Wildlife Trust and Wildwood Trust have teamed up to bring them back.

The groups plan to release four wild bison from the Netherlands or Poland into a former pine tree plantation in Kent in 2022, with the hopes the bison will reproduce and repopulate the area.

The hope is that the bison will restore the man-made, mono-crop forest to it’s former natural state, a healthy mix of woodland, scrub and glades, increasing the diversity of insect, bird and plant life.

The 2000-pound beasts are considered a “keystone species” when it comes to creating diverse ecosystems.

They kill select trees by eating their bark or rubbing against them to remove their thick winter fur. This creates dead wood for insects, which provide food for birds, including nightingales and turtle doves. It also creates sunny clearings where native plants can thrive.

Free-living longhorn cattle, “iron age” pigs, and Exmoor ponies will also live alongside the ecosytem-engineering bison and assist in restoring the woodland.