European Journal of Wildlife Research

, Volume 52, Issue 4, pp 237–244 | Cite as

Diet of Eurasian lynx, Lynx lynx, in the boreal forest of southeastern Norway: the relative importance of livestock and hares at low roe deer density

  • John OddenEmail author
  • John D. C. Linnell
  • Reidar Andersen
Original Paper


The year-round food habits of lynx were studied using radio-telemetry and snow-tracking in the boreal forest of southeastern Norway. The main objectives of the study were to clarify the importance of domestic sheep and small prey species in the diet of lynx in an area with a very low density of roe deer. During the period 1995–1999, we found 193 scats and 358 kills made by lynx. Our results indicate that roe deer were the most common prey species (contributing to 83 and 34% of the biomass consumed in winter and summer, respectively), although a wide range of other species were also found, including mountain hares, tetranoids, red foxes, domestic sheep, wild reindeer, and even moose. Most of the diet was obtained by predation, although we did document several cases of scavenging. Roe deer were more important in the diet in winter than in summer, perhaps because they were easier to locate in winter as they clustered around feeding sites. In summer, domestic sheep and small prey increased in importance. Despite the very low density of roe deer in this study area, lynx seemed to still specialise on them, although domestic sheep did constitute a significant amount to their diet, especially for males and yearlings. However, the contribution of sheep to summer diet was far from that expected if their relative density was considered.


Carnivore-livestock conflicts Sheep Capreolus capreolus Lynx Norway 



The study was supported by the Norwegian Research Council, the Norwegian Directorate for Nature Management (DN), Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA), Hedmark Collage, and the Nature Protection Division of the County Governor’s Office for Hedmark, Buskerud and Telemark. We would like to thank (in alphabetic order) J. M. Arnemo, T. Berg, T. Bjørkli, R. Bjørnstad, M. Bredvold, S. E. Bredvold, M. Bronndal, B. T. Bækken, M. Dötterer, K. Fische, P. Fossum, L. Gangås, H. Henriksen, G. Jacobsson, J. Karlsen, E. Maartmann, E. Mømb, E. Ness, P. Nijhuis, M. Odden, E. T. Pedersen, J. T. Renå, A. Rognstad, H. Rogogjerd, L. Rotelli, R. Røsvoll, S. Sandodden, K. Schmidt, H. Solvang, O. K. Steinset, O. G. Støen, S. O. Swenson, A. Söderberg, I. Teurlings, T. Udø, P. Wabakken, S. Wedul and L. Øvrem. We hereby declare that our study complies with the current laws of Norway.


  1. Arnemo JM, Linnell JDC, Wedul SJ, Ranheim B, Odden J, Andersen R (1999) Use of intraperitoneal radiotransmitters in lynx kittens (Lynx lynx): anesthesia surgery and radiotelemetry. Wildlife Biol 37:245–250Google Scholar
  2. Arnemo JM, Ahlqvist P, Andersen R, Berntsen F, Ericsson G, Odden J, Brunberg S, Segerström P, Swenson JE (2006) Risk of capture-related mortality in large free-ranging mammals: experiences from Scandinavia. Wildlife Biol 12:109–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Birkeland KH, Myrberget S (1980) The diet of the lynx (Lynx lynx) in Norway. Fauna Norvegica Serie A 1:24–28Google Scholar
  4. Breitenmoser U, Haller H (1993) Patterns of predation by reintroduced European lynx in the Swiss Alps. J Wildl Manage 55:730–737Google Scholar
  5. Bunnefeld N, Linnell JDC, Odden J, Andersen R (2006) Risk-taking by Eurasian lynx in a human-dominated landscape: effects of sex and reproductive status. J Zool (in press)Google Scholar
  6. Dunker H (1988) Winter studies on the Lynx (Lynx lynx L.) in southeastern Norway from 1960 to 1982. Medd Nor Viltforsk 3:1–56 (in Norwegian with English summary)Google Scholar
  7. Eide N (1995) Ecological factors affecting the spatial distribution of mountain hare red fox pine marten and roe deer in a southern boreal forest during winter. MSc thesis, Agricultural University of Norway, Ås, NorwayGoogle Scholar
  8. Haglund B (1966) De stora rovdjurens vintervanor I (Winter habits of the lynx (Lynx lynx L.) and wolverine (Gulo gulo L.) as revealed by tracking in the snow). Viltrevy, Stockholm 4:81–310 (In Swedish with English summary)Google Scholar
  9. Herfindal I, Linnell, JDC, Moa PF, Odden J, Austmo LB, Andersen R (2005a) Does recreational hunting of lynx reduce depredation losses of domestic sheep. J Wildl Manage 69:1034–1042CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Herfindal I, Linnell, JDC, Odden J, Nilsen EB, Andersen R (2005b) Prey density, environmental productivity, and home range size in the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx). J Zool 265:63–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Homer DW, Lemeshow S (2000) Applied logistic regression. Wiley, New York, USAGoogle Scholar
  12. Jedrzejewski W, Schmidt K, Milkowski L, Jedrzejewska B, Okarma H (1993) Foraging by lynx and its role in ungulate mortality: the local (Bialowieza Forest) and the Palaearctic viewpoint. Acta Theriol 38:385–403Google Scholar
  13. Jobin A, Molinari P, Breitenmoser U (2000) Prey spectrum prey preference and consumption rates of Eurasian lynx in the Swiss Jura Mountains. Acta Theriol 45:243–252Google Scholar
  14. Kaczensky P (1996) Large carnivore–livestock conflicts in Europe. Munich Wildlife Society, Munich, GermanyGoogle Scholar
  15. Linnell JDC, Odden J, Smith ME, Aanes R, Swenson JE (1999) Large carnivores that kill livestock: do problem individuals exist? Wildl Soc Bull 27:698–705Google Scholar
  16. Linnell JDC, Andrén H, Odden J, Liberg O, Andersen R, Moa P, Kvam T (2001) Home range size and choice of management strategy for lynx in Scandinavia. Environ Manag 27:869–879CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Matyushkin YN, Vaisfeld MA (eds) (2003) The lynx: regional features of ecology use and protection. Nauka, Moscow, RussiaGoogle Scholar
  18. Moa PF, Herfindal I, Linnell JDC, Overskaug K, Kvam T, Andersen R (2006) Does the spatiotemporal distribution of livestock influence forage patch selection in Eurasian lynx? Wildlife Biol 12:63–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Molinari-Jobin A, Molinari P, Breitenmoser-Würsten C, Breitenmoser U (2002) Significance of lynx Lynx lynx predation for roe deer Capreolus Capreolus and chamois Rupicapra rupicapra mortality in the Swiss Jura Mountains. Wildlife Biol 8:109–115Google Scholar
  20. Norwegian directorate for nature management (2005)
  21. Odden J, Solvang H, Maartmann E, Wabakken P, Linnell JDC, Andersen R, Haagenrud H, Lunqvist O, Solberg HO (2000) Gauperegistrering i Hedmark 1999, Rapport Fylkesmannen i Hedmark 1/2000 (in Norwegian, with English summary)Google Scholar
  22. Odden J, Linnell JDC, Moa PF, Herfindal I, Kvam T, Andersen R (2002) Lynx predation on domestic sheep in Norway. J Wildl Manage 66:98–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Odden J, Herfindal I, Linnell JDC, Andersen R (2006) Vulnerability of domestic sheep to lynx depredation in relation to roe deer density. J Wildl Manage (submitted)Google Scholar
  24. Okarma H, Jedrzejewski W, Schmidt K, Kowalczk R, Jedrzejewska B (1997) Predation of Eurasian lynx on roe deer Capreolus capreolus and red deer Cervus elaphus in Bialowieza Primeval Forest Poland. Acta Theriol 42:203–224Google Scholar
  25. Pedersen V, Linnell JDC, Andersen R, Andrén H, Segerström P, Lindén M (1999) Winter lynx predation on semi-domestic reindeer in northern Sweden. Wildlife Biol 5:203–212Google Scholar
  26. Pulliainen E, Lindgren E, Tunkkari PS (1995) Influence of food availability and reproductive status on the diet and body condition of the European lynxes in Finland. Acta Theriol 40:181–196Google Scholar
  27. Stahl P, Vandel JM, Herrenschmidt V, Migot P (2001) Predation on livestock by an expanding reintroduced lynx population: long term trend and spatial variability. J Appl Ecol 38:674–687CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Stahl P, Vandel JM, Ruette S, Coat L, Coat Y, Balestra L (2002) Factors affecting lynx predation on sheep in the French Jura. J Appl Ecol 39:204–216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Statistics Norway (2005)
  30. Sunde P (1996) Foraging patterns of the European lynx (Lynx lynx) in Norway. MSc thesis, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen Denmark, pp 66Google Scholar
  31. Sunde P, Kvam T, Bolstad JP, Bronndal M (2000) Foraging of lynxes in a managed boreal-alpine environment. Ecography 23:291–298CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. von Arx M, Breitenmoser-Würsten Ch Zimmermann F, Breitenmoser U (2004) Status and conservation of the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) in Europe in 2001. KORA Bericht No. 19Google Scholar
  33. Weber JM, Weissbrodt M (1999) Feeding habits of the Eurasian lynx in the Swiss Jura Mountains determined by faecal analysis. Acta Theriol 44:333–336Google Scholar
  34. Werdelin L (1981) The evolution of lynxes. Ann Zool Fenn 18:37–71Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Odden
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • John D. C. Linnell
    • 1
  • Reidar Andersen
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Norwegian Institute for Nature ResearchTrondheimNorway
  2. 2.Norwegian Institute for Nature ResearchOsloNorway
  3. 3.Hedmark College, EvenstadKoppangNorway
  4. 4.Department of BiologyNorwegian University of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway

Personalised recommendations