Large carnivores occur in a great diversity of ecological, conservation, socio-cultural and political situations in Europe.
This can help to explain the different attitudes towards large carnivores which sometimes divide society. In Europe’s densely populated multi-functional landscapes, humans and large carnivores need to find a way to coexist. This coexistence gives rise to challenges, as well as opportunities.
Recent data indicates that most large carnivore populations in Europe are stable or increasing. While this trend provides a reason to celebrate, many conflicts arise. This evokes a number of questions, for instance about current management and damage compensation schemes, as well as their legal status in certain geographic ranges.
The European hunting community is a very active player in large carnivore conservation, directly contributing to their monitoring as well as to the management of their habitats and prey across our continent. Hunters are one of the main stakeholders in Europe. Hunters are - and must be - part of the solution.
With this in mind, FACE works at several levels and promotes large carnivore management and conservation based on scientific knowledge on populations, as well as taking into account the human dimension so as to effectively reduce conflicts:
EU Action on large carnivores
The European Commission (DG ENV – Nature Unit) initiated the EU Action on Large Carnivores. This is a process of dialogue with and between the different stakeholders who have an interest in large carnivores. The overall objective is to identify practical approaches to help ensure the maintenance or achievement of the favourable conservation status of Europe’s large carnivores (Bear, Lynx, Wolf and Wolverine) and to secure their coexistence with humans by reducing conflicts. FACE is an active partner in this initiative.
Large carnivore knowledge base
FACE Members encompass a great amount of knowledge and expertise for a better future for Europe’s large carnivores. For any large carnivore policy development and implementation – whether within FACE, the EU or Council of Europe levels – FACE ensures that it has adequate in-house expertise and knowledge base on ecological, legal and socio-economic aspects.
FACE Working Group on Large Carnivores - WGLC
FACE set up its network of large carnivore experts from all around Europe, forming the WGLC. This Group is instrumental in maintaining and further developing FACE’s knowledge base and in coordinating the FACE input for the EU Action on large carnivores.
To implement the FACE position, FACE facilitates or contributes to national and regional large carnivore initiatives and projects. A recent example is the wolf mediation project MediaLoup led by the French Hunters’ Association (FNC) and its Departmental Associations.
Partnerships lie at the heart of all FACE work on large carnivores. Through various fora (such as the EU Action on large carnivores and the Rural Coalition) and bilateral exchange, FACE collaborates extensively with the scientific expert community (e.g. the Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe, LCIE) and various stakeholders such as the farmers and landowners (e.g. Copa-Cogeca and ELO) and environmental NGOs (e.g. WWF).