Bears, wolves, lynx thrive in Estonia ({{commentsTotal}})

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The number of large carnivores in Estonia, and in Europe in general, is increasing, a study recently published in Science found.

The study was led by Guilleume Chapron from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences' Grimsö Wildlife Research Station and the long list of contributors includes Estonians Peep Männil, director of the Environmental Protection Agencies' Game Monitoring Department, and Rauno Veeroja, senior specialist at the same department. It pulled together population numbers of brown bears, Eurasian lynx, wolverines, and gray wolves in Europe.

According to the study, Estonia is home to 700 of the continent's 17,000 brown bears, 200-260 of its 9,000 lynx, and 790 of its 12,000 gray wolves. Wolverines live mostly in Scandinavia and Finland, where they are estimated to number around 2,050.

The only countries in Europe with no large carnivore populations are Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Denmark.

"The number estimates differ in quality, as countries use different methods, from specialist opinion to genetic screening. In Estonia, the estimate is reached by combining observational data with more innovative methods like genetics and telemetry. So we judge our results to be fairly reliable," Männil said.

The study also found that the large carnivores are surviving largely outside of protected areas, living side by side with humans. It appears that this type of wildlife conservation is more efficient than the reservoir-based practices used in America or Africa.

Bears, wolves and lynx are species of international importance and under heavy protection in Europe. As their populations in Estonia are among the strongest and most viable in Europe, Estonia allows limited hunting of these large carnivores.

Editor: M. Oll

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