The fact that large carnivores depredate livestock (and to a lesser extent hunting dogs and beehives) is the main cause of conflict and hence main barrier to coexistence between humans and large carnivores across Europe and beyond. Large carnivores were deliberately exterminated from most of the European land mass for this reason. Their comeback is due to changes in policy moving from deliberate persecution to protection. At the same time, policy-driven agricultural intensification and concurrent abandonment of extensive pastures led to a return of forest land and prey species. The remaining extensive agricultural systems are those that suffer most from the return of large carnivores as livestock are maintained outdoors and pasture is often located in the vicinity of woodlands or other landscape features used by wildlife. The return of the wolf is an additional pressure on these low intensity systems which also suffer from a market that does not recognise the additional labour associated with extensive livestock raising. For this reason, it receives much public and political attention.
As part of the service contract supporting the EU Large Carnivore Platform, the Secretariat was asked to support the Platform members in collecting and presenting data on large carnivores and livestock. This report aims to:
Present data on damages caused by large carnivores per Member State (numbers and value where available)
Compare damages to overall large carnivore numbers
Compare damages to the number and location of grazing livestock
Present information on the availability of support through EU funds
Illustrate the above with case studies from different member states
To support this analysis, a number of more qualitative case studies illustrate the different approaches to dealing with depredation management in five member states: Austria, France, Germany, Greece and Sweden.