The European Bison Friends Society was established in November 2005 and continues the mission of the International Society for the Protection of European Bison (founded in the 1920s).
The Society brings together people of various professions – people professionally associated with the wisents and fans of the species. Among the Members there are European bison breeders, foresters, scientists, veterinarians, artists, students and media representatives.
EBFS has many members in Poland and abroad. It is a non-profit organization.
From the beginning, the President of the Society is Professor Wanda Olech, coordinator of European bison protection programs and coordinator of the current project: “Complex protection of the European bison in Poland” (2019-2023).
EBFS is located in the Department of Genetics and Animal Conservation at the Faculty of Breeding, Bioengineering and Animal Conservation of the Warsaw University of Life Sciences.
According to the Statute, the scope of the Society’s tasks is very wide. Among its main goals are: education, training, advisory, consulting and scientific activities.
All those tasks all consistently implemented.
The activities of the Society, initially quite small, are more and more visible each year. Stands with the characteristic EBFS emblem appear at various popular events, e.g. at the annual Big Spring Time Picnic of the Warsaw University of Life Sciences, the Hubertus Expo Fair or the Wisent Day in Lutowiska, in the Bieszczady Mountains. In promotional tents, Members of the Society take care of an attractive educational offer for children, adolescents and adults, wanting to learn more about our biggest, for many still little known, animal. Quizzes, puzzles, coloring books for children, leaflets and folders, as well as attractive gadgets related to wisent encourage talks with the Members of the EBFS.
The most important annual events organized by the European Bison Friends Society (in cooperation with the State Forests) include international scientific conferences on the broadly understood species conservation: current knowledge about wisent, their breeding, health and environmental requirements. Conferences are a valuable forum for the exchange of experiences and enable direct contacts between wisent specialists. Each year, participants of these meetings are also professionals from over a dozen countries (including Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, Spain, Russia, Denmark, Belarus, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Romania and France).
In 2008, with the support of EBFS, the European Bison Advisory Center (EBAC) was established. EBAC is a part of the European Bison Conservation Center (EBCC). The main tasks of the Center concern: covering all wisents from European breeding enclosures with a coordinated breeding program, advising on the exchange of individuals between enclosures and the proper selection of animals for matings in order to protect the genetic variability of the species. Thanks to the EBCC, it was possible to integrate the community and facilitate contacts between breeders from different countries. Regional EBCC offices have been established in several places in Europe. Main role of Regional Office is to act as an intermediary in contacts between the Main EBCC Office and breeders from different regions of Europe. More information can be found on the EBCC website: https://ebcc.wisent.org/
The European Bison Friends Society took part in important, long-term projects concerning the conservation of European bison. Among the projects financed, among others, from the EU funds, where EBFS acted as the Partner of a Main Beneficiary were: “Ex situ conservation of European bison Bison bonasus in Poland”, “In situ conservation of European bison Bison bonasus in Poland – north-eastern part” and recently completed “European bison metapopulation development in north-eastern Poland”.
In 2017, EBFS completed a two-year educational project ” About biodiveristy for the future – how to teach that a roe deer is not a wife of a red deer”, addressed to teachers and educators. Over 2,000 people participated in the workshops conducted in all voivodeships, and the project met with a positive public response.
Under the patronage of EBFS, wisent individuals are exchanged between breedning centers at the national and international level. The transport of European bison requires special conditions. The specialists from the Society watch over the selection of animals and the course of transports.
The Society act as specialized Editorial Office. Among the publications of the Society can be found: “Captive breeding of European bison. Guide for Breeders” (in Polish), European Bison Conservation Newsletter (in Polish and in English), “Some facts from the life of European bison”- for children (in Polish).
Since 2008, the Society has awarded the Honorary Member of EBFS Tittle to people who are especially involved in the conservation of European bison.
Since 2010, during the annual international conferences, people who stand out in their activities for the conservation of the species and popularization of knowledge about the European bison are awarded with the statuettes of the Wisent Friend.
Since 2017, EBFS has also run a fanpage on the social networking site facebook.com, where information about the wisent biology, interesting facts and news related to conservation activities are posted. The profile of the Society enjoys a growing interest among Internet users and is the fastest communication channel for fans of the species.