Welcome to the website of Stichting For Animal Needs, a Dutch non-profit organisation, mostly concerned with animal welfare in the Oostvaardersplassen.
The animals living in the Oostvaardersplassen are starved for food every year. The government and the organisation charged to care for them let’s thousands of animals starve each year, because it’s what they call nature. In the winter of 2018 we started feeding the horses, cattle and deers that recide there. Sadly, we started late in february and most of them had already been without food for so long, they still didn’t make it. More than 60% of the animals died of hunger or illnesses related to starvation. That’s more than 3.000 of the 5.230 animals. All in one winter. It was a record number, but hundreds of animals have been dying in the Oostvaardersplassen due to neglect for years now.
But what is the Oostvaardersplassen?
The Oostvaardersplassen is an area between Almere and Lelystad in the Netherlands. It used to be seawater, but the Netherlands managed to raise up an entire province of new land out of the sea. The Oostvaardersplassen was supposed to be an area for new industry, but it was unused for so long, nature started to claim it. It turned in to beautiful grassland, swamp and water, with a few forrest areas. A lot of birds, rare ones as well, made it their home. The plan to make it an industry area were put aside and the railtrack that was supposed to go through the area, was laid next to it. Under the name of rewilding, three hoof animals were reintroduced; heck oxes, koniki horses and red deer. They would keep the new formed grassland and swamp open by grazing saplings away before they could grow into trees. A fence to keep the animals in was put around the area. The Oostvaardersplassen was called wild nature and a hands-off policy was used. No interference. Because the animals started to breed, it didn’t take long for food to be scarce in winter. Numbers of animal deaths went up. In 2010 it was decided that the animals who were dying would be shot to end their suffering sooner, but that was the only measure taken.
In 2018 death rates were so high, it started a public outcry and multiple groups, including us, started to feed the animals hay ourselves. It was illegal to do so, and everyday it was a cat and mouse game with police and Staatsbosbeheer, the organisation in charge of the area. They provence finally decided to feed the animals hay themselves, but the amounts of hay and feeding places were limited, so we kept feeding as well and will continue to do so every winter.
Multiple groups fought for a change in policy. The numbers of animals in the area is to high. The Oostvaardersplassen is small and it’s mostly swamp. From almost everywhere you can see the railtrack and the ‘grassland’ hardly has grass anymore. It’s sand, weeds and poisenous plants the animals can’t eat. Most of the trees and forrest areas are gone, because the deer ate all the bark and the trees died. Fallen trees are scattered over the area. It’s an open desolate place with no shelter or food.
We fought hard for relocation, castration, birth control, shelter in winter and to keep feeding them every winter.
Sadly, the provence choose the cheapest option. More than 1500 red deer will be shot to bring numbers down to prevent death by hunger. The shooting has already started and every day, animals are shot. The focus are mother and calfs.
We will continue to fight for the animals in the Oostvaardersplassen, even though we lost this battle. There’s still a food shortage so we will keep feeding and we will also keep fighting for birth control, castration etc, so that the shooting of hundreds of animals doesn’t have to be repeated every year.