EU launches platform on coexistence between people and large carnivores

| June 15, 2014 | Reply

A new initiative by the European Union and several conservation NGOs including the World Wildlife Fund and the Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe (LCIE) have agreed to join the new EU platform “Coexistence between People and Large Carnivores”.

The 4 species involved (Wolf, Eurasian Lynx, Wolverine and Brown Bear) have all increased at least in some parts of their range. The WWF announcement gives some encouraging numbers. Even the Wolverine has increased.

But with increasing carnivores more conflicts with humans (e.g. hunters, livestock owners) will follow. The new platform aims to reduce conflicts and help people to coexist with increasing populations of large carnivores.
According to the LCIE:

“the Platform was set up by the European Commission to facilitate constructive dialogue among key stakeholders including farmers, conservationists, landowners and hunters, and it aims at finding commonly agreed solutions to conflicts arising from people living and working in close proximity to these large animals.”

This will hopefully help to further increase the numbers of those charismatic and ecologically so important species.

But although increasing, the 4 species haven’t even remotely reached the numbers they should reach across Europe. In many parts they are still extinct or very rare.
Take the Alps as an example. With only a few Wolf packs, a few Brown Bears mostly in some parts of Italy and an Eurasian Lynx only numbering between 130 and 160 animals they have no significant ecological influence on the Alpine ecosystems except locally (e.g. Eurasian Lynx in the Jura mountains of Switzerland).
Research shows that large carnivores can have a positive impact on biodiversity, e.g. by keeping ungulate numbers in check which helps vegetation to recover and so benefit species like songbirds. Of course this depends on many variables including location, carnivore and ungulate species, human influence, etc. but those species can have a significant ecological impact – but only if they can reach a certain density (e.g. like the Eurasian Lynx in parts of Scandinavia).

In order to protect a resilient ecosystem it is important to protect as many and possibly all parts of it. Large carnivores and other predators like large eagles (e.g. Golden Eagle, White-tailed Eagle) are a crucial part of the European ecosystems.

This new initiative is encouraging. If tolerated those 4 large carnivores (as well as other top predators like large eagles) can thrive in many parts of Europe and once again fulfill their ecological role.

More information:

The European Union on large carnivores:
Large carnivores in the EU – the Commission’s activity on large carnivores

News from the Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe:
EU initiative seeks to address conflicts arising from coexistence of people and large carnivores

WWF EU announcement incl. population numbers for the 4 species:
WWF joins new EU platform to successfully conserve and manage large carnivores in Europe

Announcement from Rewilding Europe:
United for the conservation of Europe’s large carnivores/a>

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Category: bears, cats, conservation, wolves

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