Wednesday 06 July 2022

‘Nature reserve should be linked to the Veluwe to stop mass starvation’

Sunday’s demonstration, calling for feeding programmes. Photo: Sabine Joosten/Hollandse Hoogte

A nature reserve on Flevoland where hundreds of animals are threatened with starvation should be linked by a green corridor to the Veluwe area of the Netherlands, the Worldwide Fund for Nature told RTL Nieuws.

Hundreds of people took part in a demonstration on the edge of the Oostvaardersplassen reserve on Sunday after the forestry commission Staatsbosbeheer and provincial council agreed to start emergency feeding programmes to stop mass starvation.

Large mammals were introduced in the reserve in the 1980s and 1990s in what has proved to be a controversial move. Reserve wardens hoped that the deer and ponies would eat young shoots, keeping the area open so it will attract geese and other wetland birds.

However, the deer, pony and cattle populations have soared, and now hundreds of animals are shot every winter to ensure there is enough food for the remaining animals.

Some 700 deer, horses and cows in the Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve have been culled since December 1, local broadcaster Omroep Flevoland last month.

In the original plan, the reserve was to be linked to the Veluwe region, but that was scrapped as part of budget cuts.

However ‘a corridor for large mammals’ would allow the animals to move to new areas where food is not so scarce, WNF director Kirsten Schuijt told RTL Nieuws.

Flevoland provincial council wants to drastically reduce the number of animals in the reserve and introduce more recreational options including cycling and walking routes.

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