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14/09/2018

Wild Europe - living with wolves, bears, wolverines and other animals

Europe is densely populated - so densely, that many feel threatened by the return of large carnivores such as wolves, bears or lynxes. Wherever they find their way back into landscapes, there are calls for population limits, protection zones and culling programs. “Pathways", an outstanding international conference on dealing with wildlife conflicts, is focusing on finding solutions that are in line with conservation laws. From 16-19 September 2018, researchers, foresters, hunters, conservationists, representatives from public authorities, politicians and interested parties from all over Europe will meet in Goslar to discuss existing and future challenges. One day of the conference is explicitly dedicated to knowledge exchange between professionals such as shepherds and other people who need to take protective measures in this area.

The conference was founded by Colorado State University. Thanks to the commitment of the Alfred Toepfer Academy, the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, the WWF and the EU-funded project LIFE EuroLargeCarnivores, it will take place in Europe for the first time. Wolves, bears and many other wild animals are domestic species in Europe and thus part of the European identity. They deserve and need our protection. 

According to official estimates, there are currently around 12,000 wolves, 17,000 bears, 9,000 lynxes and 1,250 wolverines living in Europe. They roam across national borders and seek new habitats, often close to settlements. Current media coverage and social media reactions show that these animals are still feared and that there is a great deal of prejudice to be overcome. Looking beyond a country’s own “backyard” – its national forests - helps to understand and solve local conflicts. In many regions, people have been living with predators for centuries. Local problems are often the same: wherever these occur, we can and should learn from our neighbours. 

The LIFE EuroLargeCarnivores project is co-funded by the European Union, which has financially supported hundreds of people in the development and implementation of protection measures in the recent years. These people, and many other professionals, can share their experiences and knowledge across borders at the conference and within the different activities of the project. At the same time as the conference, a digital platform in 16 languages is being launched at www.eurolargecarnivores.eu. Users can share their experiences and suggest and discuss existing solutions. Numerous examples of best practice show how coexistence can work if humans are willing to adapt - even in densely populated areas.