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Sustainably Harvesting a Large Carnivore? Development of Eurasian Lynx Populations in Norway During 160 Years of Shifting Policy

Abstract

The management of large carnivores in multiuse landscapes is always controversial, and managers need to balance a wide range of competing interests. Hunter harvest is often used to limit population size and distribution but is proving to be both controversialand technically challenging. Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) are currently managed as a game species in Norway. We describe an adaptive management approach where quota setting is based on an annual census and chart the population development through the period 1996–2008, as management has become significantly more sophisticated and better informed by the increased availability of scientific data. During this period the population has been through a period of high quotas and population decline caused by fragmented management authority and overoptimistic estimates of lynx reproduction, followed by a period of recovery due to quota reductions. The modern management regime is placed in the context of shifting policy during the last 160 years, during which management goals have moved from extermination stimulated by bounties, through a short phase of protection, and now to quota-regulated harvest. Much management authority has also been delegated from central to local levels. We conclude that adaptive management has the potential to keep the population within some bounded limits, although there will inevitably be fluctuation.

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Acknowledgments

Funding for this research was primarily provided by ear-marked financing from the state budget to the Ministry of the Environment through the Norwegian Directorate for Nature Management to the National Large Predator Monitoring Program. Additional financing was provided by the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research and the Research Council of Norway.

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Correspondence to John D. C. Linnell.

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Linnell, J.D.C., Broseth, H., Odden, J. et al. Sustainably Harvesting a Large Carnivore? Development of Eurasian Lynx Populations in Norway During 160 Years of Shifting Policy. Environmental Management 45, 1142–1154 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-010-9455-9

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Keywords

  • Adaptive management
  • Eurasian lynx
  • Harvest
  • Large carnivore
  • Historical policy