Flevoland provincial council’s executive board has given the final go ahead for a mass cull of deer in the Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve between Almere and Lelystad.
A committee set up to look into the future of the reserve said earlier this year the animal population should be reduced drastically and that the wetland part of the reserve should be expanded.
Now provincial officials have agreed to press ahead with the cull, which will start at the end of next month. The aim is to reduce the population of deer to 490. At the last count in spring there were 1,470 deer on the reserve.
A large number of the ponies which live on the reserve will be moved to new locations, and some will be taken abroad, but the details are still being worked out.
More than half the 5,230 deer, ponies and cattle living on the reserve near Almere died last winter – most of which were shot by forestry commission staff because they were starving.
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.
In the original plan, the reserve was to be linked to the Veluwe region, but that was scrapped as part of budget cuts. The province has been in charge of the reserve since 2016 and a majority of provincial councillors want to open the area up to tourism.
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