European Predators

Posted on 24 September 2014

In a major conservation success, European lynx, wolves and brown bears are increasing in numbers and returning to areas of western Europe from which they have long been absent.
In a major conservation success, European lynx, wolves and brown bears are increasing in numbers and returning to areas of western Europe from which they have long been absent. Now a new European Commission conservation initiative “Coexistence between People and Large Carnivores” has been launched with WWF and other partner organizations to help secure these species by promoting a dialogue among stakeholders to avoid human-wildlife conflict. WWF Director Tony Long said EU instruments such as the Habitats Directive have played a crucial part in this success, supported by WWF for over a decade. But such success brings new challenges: Ways have to be found to share experiences that allow and encourage coexistence between humans, livestock and large carnivores.

European Commission figures on the status of large carnivores in Europe:
The European brown bear population has increased by 7 per cent in seven years, from 15800 individuals in 2005 to 17000 in 2012. The Karelian bear population doubled to 1700 individuals and the Scandinavian population increased from 2600 to 3400 individuals - in 1930 there were only 130 bears in Scandinavia. In the Cantabrian Mountains of Spain the population doubled in the last decade to 200 individuals.

The wolverine has doubled its population in the last seven years from 675 individuals in 2005 to 1250 in 2012, with significant increases in Sweden and Finland.

The wolf population is also growing with at least 12,500 individuals across 28 countries of Europe. The two largest populations, each numbering over 3000 individuals are in the Carpathian Mountains and the Balkan countries. The Scandinavian population has doubled to 300 in the last ten years. Germany and Poland have seen an important increase, from 19 wolves to 150 individuals in the last decade. But despite the positive numbers, there are still some problem areas.  In the south of Spain only a few wolves were detected in 2012.  In many countries farmers losing livestock, especially sheep, to wolves are compensated, and efforts are made to reintroduce traditional methods to deter wolves such as guard dogs.

The lynx population in the EU has enlarged from 8 000 individuals in 2001 to over 9000 in 2012. The Karelian lynx population has increased from 870 to 2500 individuals and the Jura lynx population has grown from 80 to 100.

But despite the successes with the European lynx, the Iberian lynx remains critically endangered, limited to two surviving groups numbering fewer than 150 individuals.

Original article dated: 10.06.2014
Canis lupus Grey wolf Captive, photo was taken in March.
© Chris Martin Bahr / WWF

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