- Bos bonasus Linnaeus, 1758
- Bison europaeus Owen, 1849
IUCN: VU; Be (III); EUHD (V); RDBUkr: Зниклі в природі; RDBUkrCarp: CR; Reg
Value of species
Game (hunting) species
Two genetic lines are distinguished in recent populations: the Lowland line (B. b. bonasus) and the Lowland-Caucasian line (B. b. bonasus and B. b. caucasicus). There are no surviving pure-bred populations of B. b. caucasicus (Pucek et al. 2004).
European bison Bison bonasus is the largest herbivore in Europe. Historically it was distributed throughout western, central, and south-eastern Europe and the Caucasus. By the end of the 19th century, there were only two populations of European bison left in the wild: in Białowieża Forest B. b. bonasus and in the western Caucasus mountains B. b. caucasicus. B. b. bonasus was finally driven Extinct in the Wild in 1919, and B. b. caucasicus had been extirpated by 1927. Subsequently, the species survived only in a few European zoological gardens (Sztolcman 1924). As a result of reintroductions and introductions, it now occurs in free-ranging and semi-free herds in Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Russian Federation, Ukraine, and Slovakia. The introduced Kyrgyzstan subpopulation has recently gone extinct (EBPB 1996, Pucek et al. 2004). Captive populations are well distributed in 30 different countries worldwide (see Pucek et al. 2004 for details). It occurred from sea level to 2,100 m in the Caucasus (Pucek 1986), and in the Carpathians it is presently found at alitutudes of up to 800 m (K. Perzanowski pers. comm. 2006).