A comprehensive over 100 years history of mouflon (Ovis musimon) in Poland: from the promising beginning in 1902 to questionable future in 2014 - a case study of wildlife management history.
Mouflon (Ovis musimon) is an alien species in Poland, and a good example of how former customs in hunting become a problematic situation in modern wildlife management. The objective of the study was to document the history of the mouflon, its introductions and the reason for their failures, as well as the changes in population numbers between 1902 and 2014. The history of mouflons was tracked in three periods: 1902-1945, 1946-1981, and 1982-2014. The earliest introductions took place in the Sudeten mountains in 1902. About 50% of next introductions were unsuccessful because of severe winters, lack of supplemental feeding, poaching, and predation by stray dogs, as well as the consequences of inbreeding. Currently less than 3.000 mouflons inhabit the Sudeten mountains in south and the lowlands in western Poland. They occur in 23 local populations. In all locations, mouflon inhabit big forests which represent typical stands composition and potential understory sites. In mountains there are Picea abies stands on Dentario Enneaphyllidis-Fagetum sites, and in lowlands - Pinus sylvestris stands on Galio Silvatici-Carpinetum sites respectively. Unfortunately, existing populations need constant protection by hunters that cause legitimate questions about the sense of further breeding of this species for the purpose of hunting.