Monday, 13 February 2012

Wolves and bears are coming

Wolves and bears are after centuries of absence on the way back in countries like Germany, Switzerland, France and Scotland. Continued exodus of people from rural to urban areas gives the wildlife improve conditions and the economic upheavals in Central and Eastern Europe has created a wildlife trek westward.

The wild - really wild - nature is on the march in Europe.

Changes in EU agricultural policy, rural depopulation and the great economic upheaval in the former communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe means that the previously displaced and exterminated species such as wolves, bears and wild cats is again moving into areas where you do not have seen them for several hundred years.

From Germany to Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland and down into Italy and Spain, the World Wildlife Fund received eyewitness reports of an increasing number of encounters with these species.

The last wolves were exterminated in Germany in 1850, but now they are moving into East Germany again. They started in the last year to move from the former Soviet Union through Poland into Saxony in the south of East Germany, where they have settled on the large practice ground, as the Soviet military left in 1990 and now lies unused. At least two wolf packs have been seen in Saxony.

"In the long run we can expect that wolves would settle down again in most of East Germany - if people then allows," says Frank Mörschel from World Wildlife Fund.

But south of the Alps beats the wild again.

Brown Bears are starting to migrate from the Balkans into the Alps. In Slovenia live there today 700 brown bears, and they are also beginning to show up in the Austrian wooded province of Carinthia, where they have frightened tourists who had not been previously warned accordingly. They have also been seen in the Italian South Tyrol and the end of July there were reports of the first reliable sighting of a brown bear in southern Switzerland, where the last of the species was shot for two hundred years ago.

Nature takes over

Packs of wolves are still seen more often in the Alps between Italy and France where they have left the protected national parks in the Italian Alps and now hunts in the French alpine valleys.

The wolves and bears are on the march again because not only that in some countries have deliberately chosen to introduce the species again, which has been done in Italy and on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees.

The economic and political changes in Europe over the last fifteen years has also promoted the wildlife. Europe's population is in these years, stagnant or declining, and still more Europeans will be living near big cities. This trend is especially evident in the former communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe, where the abandonment of unprofitable industries, collective-farm and mines in rural areas has led to an exodus from rural to urban. Most of the Central and Eastern European countries will lose population at the moment; only one million East Germans since reunification moved eastward, and in countries like Poland, Romania and Bulgaria are also an increasing outflow of population away from the economically backward rural areas.
It has given nature better conditions, and where people disappear, move into other species. It is also true in Western Europe, where agriculture is expressed in growing areas. Several changes in EU agricultural policy in the 1990s has made it more financially attractive for farmers to 'set aside' rather than to continue with intensive cultivation. That means growing forest land, especially in the outlying districts of France, Italy and Spain, it becomes harder and harder to get young people to stay in the villages.

Still larger areas of Europe are again on track to become a form of informal nature parks where nature highest bump into tourists.

Complaints from agriculture

The development is not popular in all countries. Sheep farmers in Spain, Italy and France complain that they lose more and more animals to pack of wolves, because they these days no longer afford to let the shepherds - or can find shepherds all - to look after the sheep. In Switzerland - where there are still farming in the mountains because of a massive state aid - have farmers in the Bernese Oberland protested violently against a postponement of the lynx - large wild cats - recently, which has led to a decline in both sheep and cattle. The first wolf that wandered into Switzerland from France some years ago, is believed to have been shot.

And in Scotland there is a heated debate on whether to begin exposing wolves in the highlands after more than two hundred years of absence. The plan is that they only move within a larger fenced area and thus do not pose a threat to sheep farming. But there has been protests from other than farmers. The British hike guild considers that exposure of dangerous wild animals and fencing of natural areas, is an attack on the court that you have in Britain to visit all areas.

The prospect of having brown bears running around in the Alps - one of Europe's main tourist areas - also arouses mixed feelings in the tourism industry. From the North American experience, we know that the meeting between tourists and bears do not always run peacefully launched. Nature strikes once in a heavily again.



  1. The Image of the Bear chasing the Wolf is a Copyrighted Image and must me Taken down Immediately or Full Photo Credit give to
    Rob Daugherty - © 2010

    1. The pic was found on Google. It's now removed. Sorry