lundi 30 janvier 2012

Role of the County Administrative in the regulation of the lynx population

      Article written following the meeting with Johan Månsson of County administrative of Uppsala

Data :  
      Minimum level of lynx at Uppsala county: 23 lynxes
      National minimum level: 137 to 250 unit of family

  • Situation at Uppsala

How many lynx do you have in Uppsala län? What’s the density?

            There are between 24 and 30 lynxes shared with the other counties around, it means about 6 or 8 family groups.
Lynx are where the games are and there are a lot of hares and roe deers in the region of Uppland. Lynx have obviously a great impact on roe deer population in the area, it’s why they must regulate the population of lynx.

Photo source : interstices

How are their territories?

            Currently the territory of the lynx is about 20-30km2 for female and 40-50km2 for male. The territories often overlap each other when this is a mother and her daughter. The lynx can tolerate her daughters but not other lynx. It's rare that male territories overlap. Example :

 Photo source : KORA
Red : female's territory
Blue : male's territory

  • Role of the County Administrative

            The main roles of the County Administrative are to:
 - list the lynx of the County
 - decide the quota of the lynx for the year in its County
            CA estimates the population by listing family groups (i.e. the mother lynx with her kittens) because it’s easier and you can deduce the lynx population after with a good approximation. Indeed, a study conducted by Grimsö Wildlife Research Center shows that the number of lynx can be known by multiplying the number of family group by 5,5:

Nbr of lynx ≈ Nbr of family group x 5,5

How can we list the number of family groups?

        The listing is made by tracking. It’s necessary to have a period of 2 months of snow at least to track them. They do the track since the first snow fall (2010 in October, 2011 in December) until the last day of February (the hunting starts 1st of March and last all the month). Sometimes they have to follow the footsteps during 3km to determine if they belong to a family group or a single animalkittens walk consistently in the footsteps of their mother, suggesting that this is only a single animal. You need to find a place where the tracks split up at last.

        The team consists of 6 people trained and educated : they have to have the similar level of knowledge.

 Photo source : Singo

            Sometimes they organize a big operation to separate family groups to each other with a special method to know if there two or only one family.

They have to wait two days after the snow stop fallen and it needs about 300 people to look for tracks. When someone find a track, they call the central person who collect the track. They follow the track in reverse to find the place where the snow stopped fallen, in this way they can put a time repair on the track.

And if you can find another track which was printed at the same moment in another place, you can prove that they are two different family groups.

            Track make you asking many questions, after a lot of experience you are quite able to know how the lynx behave, to think like him.

            Then the County Administrative has to send a report with all these tracking dates to EPA which collect all of them in a data base so that they can know the current state of the situation of the lynx.

Do you have all the responsibilities concerning large predators?

            Concerning the survey of large predators, the County Administrative has held all the responsibilities for 10 years. Lately in 2010, County Administrative had also the responsibility of the hunting management but EPA still decides the quota, based on the current lynx population dynamics, for an area which can regroup 10 counties (for example 35 lynx). Before, EPA decided for each county.

We can consider three big area in Sweden:
North: lynx is always hunted to prevent damage on reindeers
Middle:  lynx is regulated
South: No hunt


            The counties concerned organise a meeting and split the number between themselves, depending on the data of the last two years.
They split the number thanks to an excel program. It’s a scientific and reliable method.
Eliminate 100 lynx in a population of 1500 lynx is not a problem for its development; Grimsö Wildlife Research Center showed it.

Why the hunt of the lynx is allowed in Sweden?

            His status is the same than in all the other countries of European Union which signed the Berne Convention (REPORT FROM THE COMMISSION on the implementation of the Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of naturalhabitats and of wild fauna and flora,article 12 to 16)

            Sweden has exemption in this Convention which allowed the lynx hunting:

 “Bear and lynx are protected, apart from controlled hunting. Both are classified as vulnerable. The bear and lynx populations are steadily increasing despite hunting. Currently there are 1,000-1,300 bears and 1,000-1,500 lynx […] As mentioned earlier, derogations from the protection regulations have been granted for some species (beaver, wolverine, bear and lynx) in order to prevent damage.”

Who is allowed to hunt a lynx? What’s the numbers of hunters in Sweden?

If you get the licence, you are allowed to hunt lynx.
There are about 350 000 hunters organized in Sweden (they are 9 088 728 hab. in Sweden)

  • Damages

            Do farmers can shoot a lynx to defend his livestock or himself?

       Farmers can shout a lynx to protect their herd or himself, but it’s a different case than the hunt, it’s a case of self defence but it’s really rare that a lynx attack a herd and a lynx never attack humans.
      They are not allowed to settle traps to catch them because it can provoke hurts on the animal, it’s valid for all animals.

            Do farmers receive compensations if a lynx attacks their livestock?

            There are a lot of sheep farm in Uppland but attacks are really rare because lynx find preys they need.

            This is the County administrative which is in charge to pay compensations. They don’t compensate the stress of the herd: most of time it’s impossible to link the attack of a predator with the stress, there are too many factors. They compensate the animals which are killed or hurt. It could be about 2500Kr (about 275€) for example for a sheep female. It can be more if the race of the sheep is rare and less if this is a young one. They compensate the animal or the veterinary intervention also for hunter dogs which could be attacked.


            They give as well the money the farmer needs to set up the electric fences. It has to set up in a very special way and it could be used for 20 years.
Some farmers use these electric fence (with very strong electricity) but it’s more effective on the wolf and on the bears than on the lynx: lynx are able to jump over the fence very easily. It solves the situation very fast and it’s very effective but on wolves and bears.

A protection dog is used sometimes. There are two in Uppsala län but it’s to prevent wolf attack, not lynx attack.

Two types of electric fences:

 Lynx are able to jump over the fence very easily :

Source photo : KORA

Who’s in charge to check the sheep and confirm that this is a lynx attack or not?

            Trained personal go to the farm. It’s up to the County administrative to check the body and come to a conclusion. Farmers have to call C.A. if they want to receive compensations.

Which kind of damage do you see when there is a case of lynx attack on livestock?

        Often this is an individual problem because most of lynx don’t attack sheep herd, they are too shy. There was a case of a farmer who had livestock of deers with high fence, it was for hunting and for meat (60 or 70 deer in an area of 10km² approximately).
       CA gave him 4 permissions to eliminate the lynx in one year but the problem persisted. CA decided to do the work for him and organized hunting.

  • Conclusion
            The case of Sweden can sound paradoxical in a context where the lynx is protected specie but the hunt they practise is based on scientific method and seriously regulated and monitored.
            The goal of this hunt is to prevent damage on agriculture but also to preserve the lynx population in a level that can permit to them to survive in a long term and, in the same time preserve their preys with a high number, like deer and reindeer.
             In addition, the census period of 2010-2011 showed that the population increased significantly. Currently, the population of lynx in Sweden is about 1 500 individuals.

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