Despite having to face obstacles such as half the land area of the United States and double the population density, Europe is home to twice as many wolves as the U.S, a new study finds.
The study finds that Europe’s other large carnivores are also flourishing in number, and mostly in non-protected areas where the animals coexist alongside humans. The success is owed to cross-border cooperation, strong regulations and public attitude that brings wildlife into the fold with human society, rather than banishing it to the wilderness, according to study leader Guillaume Chapron, a professor at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences’ Grims Wildlife Research Station, Fox News reported.
In Europe, “we don’t have unspoiled, untouched areas,” Chapron told Live Science. “But what is interesting is, that does not mean we do not have carnivores. Au contraire; we have many carnivores.”
Chapron and his colleagues gathered data from all over Europe excluding Russia, Ukraine and Belarus on the population numbers of brown bears, Eurasian lynx, wolverines and gray wolves. Their results, published December 18 in the journal Science, reveal that large carnivores in Europe are thriving.
With the exception of Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, every European country in the study has a permanent and reproducing population of at least one of the four large carnivores, the researchers reported. The continent houses 17,000 brown bears in 10 populations spread across 22 countries. There are 9,000 lynx in 11 populations in 23 countries. There are more than 12,000 wolves found in 10 populations in 28 countries.
Some small populations of carnivores are declining in Europe, the researchers noted, but none of the large to medium populations are suffering.
Chapron also credited the Habitats Directive, a set of conservation regulations that protects species and habitat types across national borders, for keeping carnivores from both decline and extinction.