A video showing a rare confrontation between a pack of wolves and a heard of bison has been released by Poland’s forest service. Shot by a fixed camera in the snow-covered Bialowieza forest, which straddles the Polish-Belarusian border, the night-time footage first shows startled bison fleeing as wolves break from the cover of the trees to launch an attack.
Then, perhaps remembering they are Europe’s largest land animal, the bison stand their ground before mounting a slow charge that sends the wolves scurrying back into the safety of the forest. Weighing up to 2,200lb, an adult European bison has no natural predator so it is probable the wolves were hoping to isolate and kill a calf. A couple of calves appear in the video, protected a by a phalanx of adults.
Both bison and wolves have enjoyed a renaissance in Europe in recent decades after years of suffering at the hands of hunters. Bison were hunted to the edge to extinction in Europe in the early 20th Century with the last wild bison shot in Poland in 1921, leaving only 50 in zoos scattered across the continent.
Since the end of the Second World War successful conservation programmes, especially in Poland, have led to bison numbers growing to over 4,600 worldwide. They have also been slowly re-introduced to the wild, with Poland now boasting 1,212 free-ranging animals.
Anti-hunting laws have led to a surge in wolf numbers across Europe and wolves returning to countries, such as Germany, where they once eradicated. Estimates of wolf numbers in Poland now range from 800-900.
Click to WATCH: Herd Of Bison Sees Off Pack Of Wolves In Incredible Footage Shot By Fixed Camera In Polish Forest