Until the middle of the 19th century, there were large populations of the four large carnivores, brown bear (Ursus arctus), wolverine (Gulo gulo), wolf (Canis lupis) and lynx (Lynx lynx), throughout much of Norway. All four species were relentlessly hunted, and as a result wolves and bears were almost exterminated by the middle of the 20th century. Since then, their populations have shown signs of recovery.
Most of Norway's large carnivores belong to populations that we share with neighbouring countries. From almost complete extinction by the middle of the 20th century, the populations of large carnivores have increased slowly. Wolverine and bear populations started to rise in parts of the country from the late 1970s, lynx in the 1950s and wolves in the 1990s.
More research and efforts to register populations have given us more information on population sizes and on the biology of these species. Read more about Norway's large carnivores:
Measures to reduce conflict
Wolves and bears were protected throughout Norway in 1971 and 1973 respectively. Wolverines were designated as a protected species in southern and central Norway from 1973 and in the rest of the country from 1982.
The Norwegian authorities aim to maintain viable populations of the four large carnivores. An active agricultural sector is also to be maintained, including opportunities to use uncultivated land for grazing by sheep and reindeer. The Storting has also agreed to these recommendations. Steps to reduce conflicts between livestock and large predators are therefore very important.
In order to achieve our goals both for the large carnivores and for agriculture, the authorities intend to vary the management regime from one area to another, so that agriculture is given priority in some districts and the large carnivores in others. Close contact with the local authorities and others who are affected will be very important.
Norway has international obligations
The Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats applies to all four of the large carnivores - wolverine, lynx, bear and wolf. The wolverine, bear and wolf are included in Appendix II, which lists strictly protected species, and the lynx in Appendix III, which lists protected species.
The wolf, bear and lynx are also included in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). This Appendix lists species in which trade may be permitted but must be strictly regulated.