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- the area has initially been artificially created and reclaimed from the see
- reed have been sown to recreate the old landscape and encourage wildlife
- the water levels in the wetlands are artificially managed
- the herbivores Konik horses, Red Deer and Heck Cattle (non-native in this region) have been introduced to create a so-called ideal environment for geese (pasture land). Please note that the roe deer native in these areas has totally disappeared, and that the huge populations of geese have been actually the reason why there is not enough food/grazing area available for the grazers in wintertime (see Management Report Oostvaardersplassen 2016 below) .
- a wild boar introduced itself but was shot, because supposedly it was not welcome in this area, even though they would be of great use for biodiversity/nature
- for the preservation of rabbits it is proposed to create sand hills along the edges of the forests as rabbits are very often victim of birds of pray. etc. etc.
"In December 2017 and January and February 2018, at least 1 755 large grazing animals died a cruel death from starvation in the Oostvaardersplassen.
The animals concerned were both red deer and introduced cattle and Konik horses. Due to inadequate wildlife management and an excessively large population, not only was untold animal suffering due to persistent starvation caused in the fenced-in Natura 2000 area but the agreed conservation objectives under the management plan were jeopardised because red deer entered bogs and because habitats were destroyed by large hungry grazing animals. This has seriously damaged the conservation status of vulnerable marshland birds, other target species and protected habitats in the area, according to observers.
1. What information does the Commission have about the adverse impact of the current policy concerning large grazing animals on the conservation goals for the Oostvaardersplassen Natura 2000 area?
2. Will the Commission intervene as a matter of urgency with a view to preventing significant adverse impacts on the conservation status of target species and habitats caused by large grazing animals that are starving?
3. Does the Commission consider large-scale starvation of large grazing animals in this Natura 2000 area to be in accordance with the EU’s animal welfare and nature management principles, or does the Commission agree that it is necessary to reduce the populations by means of management, removal or relocation and that, until that has been done, additional feed should be distributed?"
|6 April 2018|
|Answer given by Mr Vella on behalf of the Commission|
The Commission has no information about an alleged adverse impact of current Dutch policies concerning large grazing animals on the conservation objectives of the Natura 2000 site Oostvaardersplassen.
It is up to the competent national authorities to decide on the most appropriate site conservation and management measures to be applied for the management of their Natura 2000 sites. This includes, in relation to stocking levels of large herbivores, to ensure appropriate levels of grazing, in line with the site level conservation objectives and in accordance with the applicable EU environmental and animal welfare legislation.
The Commission notes however that EU animal welfare legislation does not apply to large grazing animals other than domestic livestock. The animal welfare issue raised by the Honourable Member is therefore a matter of exclusive national competence on which the Commission cannot intervene.
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