The final legal obstacle to the mass cull of some 1,830 deer on the Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve was removed on Thursday when judges in Lelystad threw out objections against the shooting permits.
Three nature organisations had gone to to court in an effort to have the permits ruled illegal, saying the noise of the shooting would disturb birds, including sea eagles. Today’s ruling means there are no more legalities stopping the cull which, the forestry commission said, may start next week.
The shooting will take place on weekdays and will depend on a variety of factors, including the weather and where the animals are at the time. The agency aims to shoot 20 animals a day, which means it will take at least three months to complete the cull.
The cull was prompted because some experts say the reserve has become overcrowded with large mammals. 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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