The majority of people living in rural areas want to see continued strict protection for Europe’s predators, according to a new survey. In Sweden, nearly seven out of ten rural residents support continued protection for wolves and other large carnivores.
The survey was conducted by Savanta on behalf of the European organization Eurogroup for Animals, which includes World Animal Protection and Djurskyddet Sverige. In the survey, around 10,000 people from rural Europe, with around 1,000 respondents from each country, answered questions about their views on carnivores in November this year. Participating countries included Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, Poland, Denmark, Sweden and Romania.
68% of rural Europeans believe that predators still need to be strictly protected, as do 61% of sheep farmers. In addition, 72% said they believe predators have the right to coexist with us. In Sweden, 67% of rural residents said they were in favor of strong protection for wolves and other large carnivores.
Currently, wolves are at risk of having their protection downgraded, following a consultation process launched in September, which presented “evidence” of the need for reduced protection. However, the survey found that 66% of respondents want decision-makers, including the EU, to prioritize the conservation of biodiversity and large carnivores.
65% say that individual problematic large carnivores should only be killed if it can be proven that adequate conservation measures have been implemented and failed.
In Sweden, 26% of respondents said they had seen at least one wolf and 30% had seen bears and lynx. At the same time, 29% of Swedes in the survey feel unsafe when large predators are nearby. 61% say they would feel safer if they had more knowledge about how to behave when encountering a large predator.
Facts: Large predators in Sweden
The bear, wolf, lynx and wolverine are among the largest predators in Europe. Even the golden eagle can sometimes be found on the list. All these animals are protected in Sweden.
In Sweden the most prolific large predator in terms of individuals are bears, followed by lynx, golden eagles, wolverines and wolves. There is licensed and protected hunting for all species except the golden eagle, which is strictly protected.