Presence records of wisents Bison bonasus belonging to the western subpopulation of this species in the Bieszczady Mountains (SE Poland) were used for the analysis of their habitat preferences. This population inhabits the area of four forest districts, outside of strictly protected area of the Bieszczadzki National Park. Wisents were recorded there within the whole elevation range of this area i.e. 310−1066 m a.s.l. During years 2001−2016, population size increased from 140 to 344 individuals. However in the period between 2010 and 2013, a decline from 299 to 256 individuals was observed. The area of population home range fluctuated between 188 and 504 km. Similar tendency was observed for the area assumed as truly utilized by wisents i.e. kernel 95%. Although the analysed population density within its home range generally increased together with the number of individuals this relation was not strong. Within the home range of this population, the fraction of the open areas was by some 20% higher, than within the whole accessible area in four investigated forest districts. Nevertheless, only about 8% of records of wisents presence were found outside of the forest. This indicates a very strong preference of wisents towards forested areas despite regular management activities being carried out by the foresters there. That also confirms the suitability of habitats commercially managed by the State Forests for the further development of free ranging wisent population in Poland.
Sylwan 165 (1): 41-49