Wolf and Lynx Conservation in Latvia
This month, FACE has chosen the Latvian conservation of large carnivores as the Biodiversity Manifesto project of the month. The Latvian hunters are involved in multiple ways in a project to monitor population changes in Wolf and Lynx populations.
Latvia has managed a stable population with a slight increase. The objective is to have no less than 300 – 500 wolves (Canis lupus) in spring before young puppies are born. This is a well managed population that has come from an all-time low before the 1990s. Latvia’s population of Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx) is estimated to be stable and increasing and the aim is to have no less than 600 – 650 lynx in spring before kittens are born.
Under the EU Habitats Directive, management approaches, including the use of hunting as a management tool, needs to follow certain criteria. Latvian hunters are actively involved in the conservation, monitoring and management of its Wolf and Lynx populations in Latvia. One of the most important contributions of the Latvian hunters is monitoring and data collection. Harvest data coming from the hunting is very important. Additionally, hunters, because they are in the field a lot, contribute to monitoring (via reporting observations) as well.
Communication and education activities are also of part for this project; for example, the hunting organisations disseminate knowledge to their members and to the wider public on large carnivore conservation and management. The hunters also help to make sure that there is better enforcement and implementation of existing hunting legislation. Hunters, with their knowledge, are indispensable for better enforcement on the ground. For example, the Latvian hunting organisations contribute to better enforcement through various codes of conduct.
For more information:
Agrita Žunna – Scientific Assistant, Latvia Forest Agency