Over 50 biologists from different parts of Europe have detailed the surge in the population of four carnivore species in the continent: brown bears, wolves, wolverines and the Eurasian lynx. The rise in the carnivorous animal population in Europe is believed to be due to conservation efforts.
Researchers suggest that loss of habitat and excess hunting lead to the decline of many carnivores. The continent is very industrialized and does not have large wilderness areas.
"The conservation of large carnivores is a formidable challenge for biodiversity conservation. Using a data set on the past and current status of brown bears (Ursus arctos), Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), gray wolves (Canis lupus), and wolverines (Gulo gulo) in European countries, we show that roughly one-third of mainland Europe hosts at least one large carnivore species, with stable or increasing abundance in most cases in 21st-century records," stated the study.
The study estimated that there are about 17,000 brown bears in 22 European countries. Brown bears belong to the same species as the grizzly in North America. However, the population of the grizzly bear is estimated to be just 1,800 in the U.S.
The researchers also revealed that the lynx population has now increased to 9,000 spread over 23 European countries.
The number of wolves thriving in the continent was also estimated to be over 12,000 spread across 28 countries. In November, a Danish scientist confirmed that they observed a wolf crossing the German border, which made the Jutland region of Denmark its residence.
Wolverines, on the other hand, thrive in cold climates prevalent in Scandinavian countries such as Norway, Finland and Sweden. The study showed that there are about 1,250 wolverines in Europe. However, climate change is still a threat to wolverines.
The researchers also noted that Norway, Finland and Sweden are the only European countries where the populations of all four carnivorous animals are on the rise.
The study pointed out that the surge is mainly due to the conservation approach taken up by European countries. The approach allows carnivores to live in areas where humans also reside. A reverse approach is followed in North America, where animals are isolated in conservation areas and parks.
The study explained how in Europe most wolves live in regions that have an average human population of 37 humans per 0.4 square mile, and lynx live in regions with human population densities of 21 people per 0.4 square mile. The researchers believe that Europe has been successful in reversing the decline of these animals by learning how to live with them.
The study is detailed in the journal Science.