Overcoming barriers – management of large carnivores in the Alps

27-06-2018

After centuries of intensive hunting large carnivores like brown bears, Eurasian lynx and wolves are now recovering in many areas of Europe. This work deals with large carnivore populations in the French Alps focusing on wolf and gives information on the recent population status, management, legal frameworks and recommendations for habitat protection and coexistence of humans and large carnivores. The occurrence of wolves in France is limited to the Western Central Alps. In 2017 52 packs (360 individuals) were monitored. The Western Alpine population is of Italian origin, and migration moving from the Apennines to the Alpine population is still underway. Wolf populations are still far from being accepted by local farmers and livestock breeders, and conflicts with hunters are also reported. A French wolf plan exists. The actions listed in the wolf plan are based on livestock protection and compensations. The principles of “tir de défense” (removal of stock raiding individuals) and “tir de prélèvement” (a yearly defined number of individuals are removed) are applied. The goal is to reduce predation and keep or increase wolf populations and maintain them at favourable conservation status. Lynx is present in France in the Jura, the Vosges-Palatinian region and in the Alps. The alpine population originates from the Carpathians, where the nearest autochthonous population can be found. In 2016 100 individuals lived in France, and a small population of around 30 individuals has settled in the North of the French Alps (Savoie). For the lynx no management plan exists. In France the occurrence of bears is limited to the Pyrenees with an estimated population of 19 bears. There is no Alpine bear population in France. For the management of the brown bear a French bear plan exists. Bears, wolves and lynx are strictly protected by international and national laws, but for their practical management, almost all countries with substantial populations of these carnivores have some regulations allowing for the targeted removal of problem animals. For large carnivores interregional wildlife habitat planning on the European level is important. It would clearly be desirable to have more transnational cooperation to develop more flexible management practices beyond national borders. The Habitat Directive with its focus on the favourable conservation status (FCS), combined with the Bonn and the Bern conventions, provides a good basis to achieve this.

After centuries of intensive hunting large carnivores like brown bears, Eurasian lynx and wolves are now recovering in many areas of Europe. This work deals with large carnivore populations in the French Alps focusing on wolf and gives information on the recent population status, management, legal frameworks and recommendations for habitat protection and coexistence of humans and large carnivores. The occurrence of wolves in France is limited to the Western Central Alps. In 2017 52 packs (360 individuals) were monitored. The Western Alpine population is of Italian origin, and migration moving from the Apennines to the Alpine population is still underway. Wolf populations are still far from being accepted by local farmers and livestock breeders, and conflicts with hunters are also reported. A French wolf plan exists. The actions listed in the wolf plan are based on livestock protection and compensations. The principles of “tir de défense” (removal of stock raiding individuals) and “tir de prélèvement” (a yearly defined number of individuals are removed) are applied. The goal is to reduce predation and keep or increase wolf populations and maintain them at favourable conservation status. Lynx is present in France in the Jura, the Vosges-Palatinian region and in the Alps. The alpine population originates from the Carpathians, where the nearest autochthonous population can be found. In 2016 100 individuals lived in France, and a small population of around 30 individuals has settled in the North of the French Alps (Savoie). For the lynx no management plan exists. In France the occurrence of bears is limited to the Pyrenees with an estimated population of 19 bears. There is no Alpine bear population in France. For the management of the brown bear a French bear plan exists. Bears, wolves and lynx are strictly protected by international and national laws, but for their practical management, almost all countries with substantial populations of these carnivores have some regulations allowing for the targeted removal of problem animals. For large carnivores interregional wildlife habitat planning on the European level is important. It would clearly be desirable to have more transnational cooperation to develop more flexible management practices beyond national borders. The Habitat Directive with its focus on the favourable conservation status (FCS), combined with the Bonn and the Bern conventions, provides a good basis to achieve this.