Court bans further culling of deer in Oostvaardersplassen

A family of red deer in Oostvaardersplassen
A family of red deer in OostvaardersplassenPhoto: andrewbalcombe@hotmail.com/DepositPhotos

Forestry service Staatsbosbeheer and the province of Flevoland must stop the large-scale culling of red deer in nature reserve Oostvaardersplassen, the Midden-Nederland court ruled on Tuesday. Multiple nature organizations lodged an appeal against the mass culling of red deer in order to reduce the number of large grazers in the nature reserve, NU.nl reports.

In December last year a court gave the forestry service permission to cull the herd of red deer down to 490 animals. This happened after 60 percent of the red deer population in Oostvaardersplassen starved to death in the winter of last year. The province of Flevoland decided to reduce the number of large grazers to a total of around 1,100 - 200 Heck cattle, 450 Konik horses, and 490 red deer. In December, Oostvaardersplassen was home to 2,320 red deer. Which meant that 1,830 of the animals were to be culled. 

Between October 2018 and October this year, Staatsbosbeheer shot dead a total of 1,785 red deer, according to the newspaper. Early in October, helicopter counts revealed that 1,525 of the animals were still roaming Oostvaardersplassen. 

Nature organizations Faunabescherming, Dierbaar Flevoland, Fauna4Life, and Stichting Aanpak Misstanden Natuurbeheer, objected to the culling order, the way in which it was being done, and the shooting of animals in a nature reserve that is home to protected bird species. The Midden-Nederland court ruled in favor of the nature organizations.

According to the court, the province was not able to properly explain why the red deer population had to be reduced to 490 animals. The court banned further mass culling of red deer in Oostvaardersplassen and put the old culling policy back in force - only weak an older animals can be shot in the winter. 

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