Large carnivores

In Slovenia and Croatia live all three large carnivores

These include the brown bear, the wolf and the Eurasian lynx. Historically these species have all suffered dramatic declines in numbers and distribution as a consequence of human activity.

Due to increases in their prey and forest cover and favourable legislation the last few decades have seen a positive response, with most populations (expert for critically endangered Eurasian lynx) stabilizing or increasing again. A result has been the return of these species to many areas from which they have been absent for decades.

However, while this recovery can be viewed as a great conservation success it has resulted in controversy in some areas. The presence of large carnivores often invokes polarized discussions, even expanding the polarization to other underlying social challenges, and quickly escalating to highly political exchanges.

Importance of large carnivores for nature?

Large carnivores are predators and are therefore at the top of the trophic pyramid of the ecosystem and thus play a crucially regulatory role over ungulate populations, balancing the overall function of natural ecosystems. Some large carnivores are also scavengers (i.e. wolverine) and therefore also play a sanitary role in the ecosystem. Furthermore some large carnivore species which are also omnivorous (i.e. brown bear) contribute through their diet cycle to plants and fruits seeds dispersal thus enhancing the vegetation structure and diversity in a given ecosystem.

Importance of large carnivores for local communities or society?

Large carnivores can also bring benefits to local communities, especially in cases where they have had the opportunity and the desire to join with the Public authorities and large carnivores experts to develop a common management plan. One of the most important benefits is the economic boost that large carnivores can provide to a community by providing an added value to the wilderness attractiveness of a given natural area. An economic boost can also be derived by taking advantage of the existence of large carnivores in order to label specific local agricultural products thus triggering a new stream of recreational visitors, wildlife amateurs and consumers. This will have an overall positive effect on “green” tourism in the area.

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