A new report shows that Europe is home to twice as many bears and wolves than the United States.
You would be quickly forgiven if you didn’t think that Europe and its dense population and relatively small size compared to just the lower 48 states of the U.S would house populations of this size. This might be even more difficult to believe if you remember that a number of fairy tales that make villains of both bears and wolves originated in Europe. Nonetheless, it’s true.
In a study by over 50 leading carnivore biologists that was published in Thursday’s journal Science, researchers reported an incredible recover of four carnivore species: the wolverine, the Eurasian Lynx, wolves, and brown bears on this highly industrialized continent.
“There is a deeply rooted hostility to these species in human history and culture,” the study notes. But all but four of the continents 50 nations have at least one of these species as Europe is “succeeding in maintaining, and to some extent restoring, viable large carnivore populations on a continental scale.”
More wolves and bears than Yellowstone or Jellystone
While Europeans may fly to Yellowstone National Park to get a glimpse of a grizzly bear or wolves, turns out the former exist a two hour car ride from Rome, traffic and insane drivers aside, in Abruzzo National Park. Hell, Europe has an estimated 17,000 brown bears (Ursus horribilus or Grizzly Bears) in 22 countries while the U.S lower 48 has less than 2,000.
Guillaume Chapron, the study’s lead author and fellow at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences cites the EU Habitats Directive as the driving force in protecting these species.
“The European model shows that people and predators can coexist in the same landscapes,” he said. “I do not mean that it is a peaceful, loving coexistence; there are always problems. But if there is a political will, it is possible to share the landscape with larger predators.”
Advice for California
California, for example, is presently debating the merits of returning grizzly bears to the wild along with breeding wolf packs and Chapron has some advice. “Well, look at the European example,” Chapron opined. “You can have a lot of wolves and bears in California; you just have to move to a coexistence mindset.”
Chapron, I fear, forgets the American mindset especially if attacked by either animal. While probably less likely than being shot at school, Fox News will quickly point out that that is not the point and rally against environmentalists and conservation efforts.
That is not a criticism limited to the U.S, Chapron’s own home county of France has its critics including Ségolène Royal, a former presidential candidate and the current minister of the environment recently claimed that children won’t go outside at night, or sleep at night, because “there are too many wolves!”