Noble deer in Oostvaardersplassen may still be shot

According to the Council of State, the province of Flevoland has sufficiently demonstrated the need to reduce the number of red deer in the Oostvaardersplassen to a maximum of 490 animals. This is necessary for the protection of flora and fauna in the nature reserve. Last year, therefore, the provincial authority was allowed to grant an exemption to the State Forestry Commission for the shooting of hundreds of animals.

The court ruled in November last year, following objections from animal organisations, that the exemption granted was not sufficiently substantiated. As a result, the desired shooting came to a standstill. But the Council of State annulled that ruling on Wednesday morning. The Supreme Administrative Court ruled that various ecological studies show that overgrazing causes damage to nature. On the basis of another investigation, Flevoland came to the conclusion that a maximum of 490 deer can live in the Oostvaardersplassen, according to the council.

The assignment of the province to Staatsbosbeheer was valid until 1 January of this year. That period has already passed, but the decision of the Council of State is important for the new policy for the Oostvaardersplassen that has now been adopted. The intention was for the European bird sanctuary to become a park-like landscape without human intervention.

It turned out, however, that the numbers of large grazers were growing far too fast. As a result of overgrazing, reeds, shrubs, trees and birds have disappeared. Deer were no longer seen in the area. It was therefore decided that the area manager will keep the groups of large grazers under control. The surplus of red deer will be shot and groups of konik horses will be moved as much as possible.

The Forestry Commission will not immediately resume the shooting after the decision of the Council of State, because the deer will be left alone during the rutting season. At the end of October the number of deer to be shot will be counted.