Forestry commission workers should shoot weak animals in the Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve to prevent them suffering unnecessarily during hard winters, a government commission said on Monday evening.
Putting out extra food to stop wild animals dying of starvation or taking steps to reduce their fertility should be avoided, the commission said.
Last winter, farm minister Gerda Verburg agreed to provide extra food to help the wild cattle, horses and deer which inhabit the Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve because of the continuing snow and ice. Extra feeding is currently banned by law
Some 3,000 large mammals live on the reserve which was created on reclaimed land some 25 years ago.
The Dutch forestry commission Staatsbosbeheer, which runs the reserve, considers the animals to be part of the eco system and does not support extra feeding.
It says some 30% of the animals die in winter but that the population increases by one third again in spring.