As the Cold War heats up again, with more evidence of Russian tampering heading into the American election surfaces, it appears that some conservationists felt compelled to make better, ie positive use, of a former Soviet base. On land that was once the Milovice military base north east of Prague in the Czech Republic, wild herds of horses, bison and other creatures freely roam, restoring biodiversity to the area.

The goal is to have these big-hoofed animals graze on invasive plant species to preserve endangered flora in the area. According to the researchers involved in the sanctuary the horses and bison are the perfect vegetarian partners for the project. Sheep were considered, but the idea was abandoned given that particular domestic animals penchant for eating all types of greenery. A solution to mechanically cut back or dig up the invasive plants was deemed too expensive. So the choice of what animals to release into the area came down to who ate what, with the invasive grasses appealing to the wild equines, whereas the European bison like to nosh on the bushes, making them complimentary dining companions.

Before the Velvet Revolution, the USSR maintained as many as 74 military sites in what was then Czechoslovakia.

The non-indigenous plant species arrived with Soviet troops in the 1968 invasion of then Czechoslovakia, which became independent in 1991. Dalibor Dostal, the director of European Wildlife, one of the conservation groups behind the sanctuary, called the effect of the wild herds as “A miraculous change. Nobody expected that the whole process would go ahead so fast and the area would change so much in just a few years.”

Supporters of the project hope to expand the acreage of the sanctuary given how successful the experiment has been since it was created five years ago. A quick look at the animals will see that the wild horses and bison look right at home on the base. We can’t help but assume that locals are happier to see an army of animals roaming the land instead of military boots and Russian jets.