Large Carnivores in transboundary protected areas

Large carnivores are some of the most challenging species to maintain or reintegrate back into the natural areas of Europe. Bears (Ursus arctos), wolves (Canis lupus), Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus), European lynx (Lynx lynx) and wolverines (Gulo gulo) are the main representatives of this group in our continent and, along the years, their populations have fluctuated up and down for several reasons.

During centuries, European large carnivores suffered dramatic declines in numbers and distribution as a consequence of human activity, habitat loss and the decrease of their preys. The predatory nature of these species has pushed them to trespass the boundaries established by humans in the search for food, which resulted in conflict and in the establishment of control measures that threatened their existence. Furthermore, the efforts carried out to manage large carnivores has been continuously challenged by political, socioeconomic and society changes and, as a result, scattered individuals and small populations survived in remote areas where human presence could be avoided.

Nowadays, with the improvements in the quality of their habitat, the abandonment of farmlands, the expansion of forest areas, the return of their prey species, and the existence of favorable legislation and public support, the current situation for large carnivores is quite different from decades ago. Large carnivore’s populations are currently stable in Europe, or growing, and count with large and robust groups of individuals that often expand across new areas. Although some small populations remain critically endangered and a few of them are declining, the presence of large carnivores in the human scene is increasingly more common so, once again, we need to learn to coexist.

To start with, the collection of reliable scientific data, the provision of relevant population estimates, and a common understanding of large carnivore’s conservation status at national and population level is the basis to take sound management decisions. However, large carnivore’s home range is extensive, and as such, they require large areas to live. These areas often cross intra and international borders and occupy territories with different management policies. Hence, the management of these species must be planned on very wide spatial scales to be effective, and it is imperative that a good coordination exists between the different administrations involved. In this toolkit, you will find information and real examples that illustrate the cooperation efforts carried out by different administrations in Europe to effectively manage large carnivores in transboundary protected areas.

large carnivores, wolf

Overview

EU efforts on Large Carnivores and Platform for Co-existence between People and Large Carnivores

The European Commission has initiated a range of measures to encourage cooperation between member states, engaging in dialogue with stakeholders and promoting best practices in management methods in regards to large carnivores.

The following videos and documents for download provide an introduction to the EU’s efforts on the conservation of large carnivores. They also speak about the EU Platform on Coexistence between People and Large Carnivores, a grouping of organisations representing different interests groups which have agreed a joint mission: “To promote ways and means to minimize, and wherever possible find solutions to, conflicts between human interests and the presence of large carnivore species, by exchanging knowledge and by working together in an open-ended, constructive and mutually respectful way”.

Videos

Karmenu Vella: The EU’s Strategy on Large Carnivores and Biodiversity

Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fishery gives an introduction to the EU strategy on large carnivores and biodiversity.

Dr. András Demeter: EU Platform on Coexistence between People and Large Carnivores

Comprehensive presentation of the EU Platform on Coexistence between People and Large Carnivores by András Demeter, advisor to the Directorate for Natural Capital, Directorate-General for the environment.

EU protection works for wolf, bear and lynx

In the Habitats Directive within the EU it is established that big predators such as the bear, wolf and lynx are protected and, when they show up, should be welcome in the Netherlands, says Arie Trouwborst, Associate Professor of Environmental Law at Tilburg Law School. In Europe we can compare EU members with non EU members; in Switzerland and Norway the population of wolves is very small, in contrast with the growth in EU member states.

Wild brown bears, wolf and wolverine in Finland

An inspirational short film by Oliver Hargreaves dedicated to the large predators of northern Finland. The video particularly focuses on the European Brown Bear, Grey Wolf and Wolverine.

Downloads

Brown bear

Videos

How to pluck hair from a bear?

Brown bears’ hair and droppings contain their DNA. This is important for research and management of brown bears. All good in theory, but how does one practically go about collecting DNA?

How to fit a bear with GPS collar?

This video shows how a bear roaming close to and in Slovakian villages is captured and fitted with a GPS collar in order to trace its steps and learn more about its movement patterns.

Downloads

Wolf

Videos

How wolves change rivers

When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable "trophic cascade" occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix.

Downloads

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