Four of the large carnivore species existing in Europe are among the most challenging group of species in conservation terms on an EU level: brown bear (Ursus arctos), wolf (Canis lupus), Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), and wolverines (Gulo gulo). This is because of their biological needs, especially their large ranges which cross borders. In addition, they are controversial because they potentially conflict with human economic activities. Depredation of livestock is one of the most significant and emotive issues standing in the way of peaceful coexistence between people and large carnivores.
As large carnivores have returned across much of Europe, most countries have addressed this issue by financially compensating those who experience losses of livestock or goods. Over time, and as experience of living with large carnivores has increased, and lessons have been learned from those countries where coexistence has historically been successful, the emphasis has moved away from compensation and towards prevention of large carnivore attacks.
Prevention measures might include putting in place livestock guardian dogs to protect flocks, reintroducing shepherding or fencing flocks, especially at night. Funding for prevention measures may come from national sources but an increasing number of EU Member States are also making use of the support available through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), the second pillar of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The EAFRD is partially financed by the EU and partly by the Member States and they may choose (within certain limits) which measures they want to include.
adelphi carried out a study for the Permanent Secretariat of the Alpine Convention to examine how the EAFRD fund is used to prevent livestock depredation by large carnivores in the Alpine countries. The study supported the work of the Large Carnivores, Wild Ungulates and Society (WISO) Platform of the Alpine Convention.