Heading for new horizons

The reintroduction project of the Ural owl is led by ornithologist Richard Zink and his team of scientists located at the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology as part of the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna. The goal is to achieve a comeback of the big owl into Austrian woods. A renewed distribution in the Alps establishes an essential connection between the populations south (Slovenia, Italy) and north (Germany, Czech Republic) of Austria/the alpine republic. Individuals that occasionally migrate between these populations ensure a genetic flow within European metapopulations, which is vital for the survival of the big owl in the long term.

Conditions of living of the Ural owl in Austria were improved by designating protected areas as well as by gradually switching to sustainable forest management. Based on these measures, the project´s realization was demanded by an international delegation of experts in the fall of 2006.

For sites of final release the protected areas/nature reserves of “Biosphere Reserve Wienerwald” and “Wilderness Area Dürrenstein” were chosen. Due to ecologically highly valuable forest stands, these regions provide the newcomers with best survival conditions.

This project is orientated towards a successful reintroduction of Ural owls which has been taking place at the Bavarian Forest National Park (Germany) since the 1970s.