Large European carnivores are increasing and co-existing with people finds a new study

The brown bear, the Eurasian lynx, the grey wolf and the wolverine all have stable or increasing populations in Europe.

This European situation showcases that it is possible for large carnivores and people to share the same landscapes, finds a new study published in the journal Science.

The study, conducted by a collective of 76 carnivore specialists from all over Europe, gives the reasons for this overall conservation success as protective legislation, supportive public opinion and a variety of practices that together make co-existence possible between large carnivores and people.

The study makes a distinction between the approach from the North American wilderness model that tends to separate people and nature, and which has been adopted in many Asian and African, with an alternative model, which allows for people and predators to live together following a landscape-scale conservation approach.

This approach has rarely been given proper consideration, probably because it was pre-judged to fail because of the existing conflicts between large carnivores and humans, according to the authors.

“Our study shows that we need to change the nature and pace of our management systems,” says Luigi Boitani, one of the lead authors from the University of Rome and Chairman of the Large carnivore Initiative Europe (LcIE). “We have to adopt more flexible approaches that would allow local hunts, prey reintroductions, damage prevention and mitigation. The European Union must be satisfied that the Habitats Directive has achieved a great conservation goal.

“Now we need to move into a new phase where co-existence is achieved through the compromise between human needs and carnivore conservation.”

“Who knew that today Europe hosts twice as many wolves, more than 11,000, as the contiguous United States, which has 5,500, and that the brown bear is the most abundant large carnivore in Europe, with an estimated number of 17,000 individuals?” says Frans Schepers, Managing Director of Rewilding Europe.

”These are staggering figures and provide not only challenges but also a lot of opportunities for Europeans to enjoy this wildlife comeback, which we have also seen in many other large mammal and bird species over the last 40 to 50 years across Europe’’.

In June 2014, Rewilding Europe and LcIE signed a partnership agreement, to work to together to help create, restore, enhance and maintain healthy populations of large carnivores across Europe.

To download the full article, please click here. If you want to know more about the wildlife comeback in Europe, you can also download the detailed report ‘Wildlife comeback in Europe’ (published 2013 by the Zoological Society of London and BirdLife International, commissioned by Rewilding Europe).

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