Recovery of large carnivores in Europe’s modern human-dominated landscapes

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Science  19 Dec 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6216, pp. 1517-1519
DOI: 10.1126/science.1257553

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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. The reasons for this overall conservation success include protective legislation, supportive public opinion, and a variety of practices making coexistence between large carnivores and people possible. The European situation reveals that large carnivores and people can share the same landscape.

Success for Europe's large carnivores?

Despite pessimistic forecasts, Europe's large carnivores are making a comeback. Chapron et al. report that sustainable populations of brown bear, Eurasian lynx, gray wolf, and wolverine persist in one-third of mainland Europe. Moreover, many individuals and populations are surviving and increasing outside protected areas set aside for wildlife conservation. Coexistence alongside humans has become possible, argue the authors, because of improved public opinion and protective legislation.

Science, this issue p. 1517

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