International lynx conference in Slovenia

The silent comeback of the lynx – How hunters support lynx conservation in Europe.

Hunters’ Association of Slovenia: with dedication and passion for lynx conservation for 50 years
Since 50 years, hunters in Slovenia support the recovery and conservation of the Eurasian lynx. On 2 March 1973, hunters and foresters brought the first lynx back to Slovenian forests. The reintroduction of lynx to Slovenia is still considered one of the most successful efforts in the world to return lynx to the wild, and dedicated and passionate hunters were key partner to make this possible. The experience, advice and, last but not least, the courage of the generation that took the fate of the lynx in Slovenia into their own hands, were a source of encouragement and guidance in the design and implementation of the LIFE Lynx project that started in 2017.

LIFE Lynx project’s primary objective is rescuing the Dinaric-SE Alpine lynx population from extinction and to preserve it in the long term. Before the start of the project, the population was small, isolated, and extremely inbred. It urgently needed reinforcement by introducing additional, healthy animals from another population. The project reinforces the Dinaric-SE Alpine population with lynx from the viable source population in the Carpathians, while maintaining high public support. The team is collaborating across all EU countries sharing this population to develop and implement a systematic approach to ensure long-term viability of the reinforced population. The project is a good example of joint efforts towards long term lynx conservation between hunters, Hunters Association of Slovenia, foresters from Slovenia Forest Service and scientists from University of Ljubljana. Hunters are key partners in monitoring the lynx populations and are standing strong against illegal killing. Last year for instance, the Hunters Association of Slovenia organized a three-day training for prevention and successful persecution of illegal killing of wild animals for police officers.

The conference: international exchange between hunters and researchers
Learning from different projects, sharing knowledge and expanding the network of relevant interest groups were the main goals of this conference. By listening to experts from Austria, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Slovenia and Switzerland, participants could learn from reintroduction projects in Europe. In total, FACE members from 10 different countries joined the conference and contributed with their experience. Fruitful discussions about monitoring, stakeholder involvement and legal enforcement were promoted during and after the conference. Plenty of business cards were exchanged and FACE members and researchers actively planned future meetings to further support stakeholder involvement which will benefit lynx conservation and management in Europe.

Signing a networking agreement of exchange of information on lynx presence
With new translocations of lynxes within the LIFE Lynx project, we can assume the spread of the lynx population to Austria. For the long-term conservation of this lynx population, it is important that a transboundary exchange of information on lynx presence, movement, abundance, and good practices from the LIFE Lynx project is regularly communicated. Therefore, a networking agreement was signed by the president of the Styrian Hunting Association, the president of Hunters Association of Slovenia and the director of the Slovenia Forest Service. The signing of this document represents a good example of multi-institutional collaboration and cross-border coordination of joint lynx conservation actions.

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