1,600 red deer to be culled but mild winter could foil hunters again

A red deer in the wild
Photo: Stuart Bassil via Flickr


A red deer in the wild
Photo: Stuart Bassil via Flickr

The Dutch forestry commission Staatsbosbeheer is going to carry out a cull of 1,600 red deer and 100 heck cattle at the Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve to prevent  animals from starving in winter.

There is food for around 500 red deer in the Flevoland nature reserve but a recent count has shown the number to be over 2,000. The population of Konik horses is currently around 300 and their number will not have to be reduced.

Last year’s cull, which was supposed to bring down the number of red deer by 1,400, resulted in just 157 being shot.

Staatsbosbeheer blamed a mild winter which made the animals alert and quick to spot hunters and too short a window in which to shoot a large number of deer. That period may now be extended beyond March 15 as part of efforts to achieve the goal. Staatsbosbeheer has also asked the provincial authorities for a permit to shoot deer at night.

Staatsbosbeheer also want to leave out food so the deer will congregate and make an easier target.


The weather could influence this year’s cull as well, ranger Rosan op den Kelder told broadcaster NOS.  ‘If it’s cold, the animals become less active and it’s easier to approach them.’

The meat of the deer and cattle will be sold commercially to restaurants, butchers and a small number of private buyers. Some of the carcasses will be left to feed foxes and ravens.

The culling of red deer at the Oostvaardersplassen reserve remains controversial. In 2018 the number of animals proved unsustainable as well and many starved to death, leading to protests and people coming to the nature reserve to feed them.

Since then it has been Staatsbosbeheer’s brief is to make sure the number of animals does not exceed the amount of food available.

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