Over the last 20 years wolves, bears and lynx’s can be found again in France. Since 1991 wolves from Italy are immigrating over the alpine arc to France. Until today a population of approx. 200 individuals could establish itself. The bear population is concentrated in the Pyrenees and grew to 20 individuals after eight bears where relocated there from Slovenia. The lynx distribution stretches across three areas: „Les Vosges“, „le Jura“ and the Alps. While the lynx was actively introduced to „Les Vosges“ in 1983, the animals in the Jura and the Alps have mainly immigrated from Switzerland.
Especially the dispersal of wolves is subject to a broad and public debate, which has been carried on over many years. In order to establish a framework between human land-use requirements and the re-colonization of bears and wolves, national management plans are created every four years. The strategies are based on two main principles:
- Overseeing and controlling the populations
- Preventing agricultural damages
A national management plan does not yet exist for the lynx. General information on the lynx’s dispersal is regularly published through the Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage (ONCFS)
So far the presence of large carnivores has notably caused damages to livestock in the mountain areas and the rural peripheral regions. However, due to their expansion north- and westward, increasingly more densely populated and more intensively used areas in valley regions are affected. Mainly small livestock is affected by large carnivore attacks. Damages to cattle are only rarely reported. A national damage statistic is kept. Damages and protection measures are uniformly compensated nationwide.
Shepherding, livestock guard dogs and fences are the herd protection measures, which are systematically supported by the state. As an additional measure to prevent damages, the infrastructure for shepherds is being improved. In case the protection measures cannot be implemented or are not effective, hunting authorizations can be granted. No regular measures have been implemented for the protection of cattle.