Rangers culling deer on the Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve have shot far fewer animals than expected so far, and their number has now been doubled to 16 in an effort to pick up the slack, website Nu.nl said on Tuesday.
In total, some 1,830 deer are scheduled for slaughter in an effort to reduce the size of the population to 490, which is considered to be a sustainable number for the reserve.
So far, 134 deer have been shot, of which 112 have been cleared for human consumption. The hunting season will continue until April 1.
This means fewer than 10 deer a day are being killed, half the speed need to finish the cull by the end of March.
The final legal obstacle to the controversial cull was cleared in November.
Three nature organisations had gone to court in an effort to have the permits ruled illegal, saying the noise of the shooting would disturb birds, including sea eagles.
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 were shot by forestry commission staff because they were starving.
Large mammals were introduced in the reserve in the 1980s and 1990s to 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. Flevoland 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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