mercredi 21 décembre 2011

Natural Park in France with lynx

Documentary about the "Parc des félins" (in french) :

mardi 20 décembre 2011

Current status of the lynx population in Sweden and quota management

In Sweden in the 20's, the population of lynx was close to extinction but has increased again thanks to the implementation of regulatory measures for the protection of the species between 1928 and 1943 :

Distribution of the population of Lynx lynx in 1850                               Distribution of the population of Lynx lynx in 1920

Distribution of the population of Lynx lynx in 1950                           Distribution of the population of Lynx lynx in 2010
[Maps produced from Grimsö and Scandlynx data]

      Since then, as the population of northern lynx is strongly amplified, lynx hunting was legalized again in Sweden.      This is not the case in France where the lynx is a protected species throughout the year (the population is still fragile) : it has full protection from the ministerial decree of 17 April 1981 relating to protected mammals throughout the territory (cf. legifrance). It is prohibited to destroy, maim, capture or remove it, to intentionally disrupt or to naturalize and to destroy, alter or degrade their environment. Whether living or dead, it is also illegal to transport, peddling, use it, to hold, sell or buy.
      There are currently more than 2500 lynx throughout Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden and Finland) with nearly 1500 in Sweden where quotas have increased from 6 in 1995 to 168 in 1998.
 This is an important nucleus of population for the Europe:
Europe map of the distribution of the lynx (from data 2010)

Proportion of the lynx in each region of Europe

 I made this graph in order to assess the distribution of lynx in Europe. It is observed that 37% of them are in Scandinavia.

          I learned that the catch of the lynx could be done in different ways by researchers in Sweden:
  •    Traps are installed throughout the country and rangers and/or hunters are responsible to check regularly to inform Grimsö
Lynx anesthetized in a trap

  •    Trained dogs can also track the lynx. The latter took refuge in a tree, then they set up a net below the tree to retrieve the animal after anesthesia.

  •    Sometimes by helicopter in the north where the forest is less dense on the reliefs. The first step is to identify the animal in a restricted area by looking for his footprints in the snow. Once the animal is located, the helicopter started to pursue him remaining very close to the ground (an experienced pilot performs this delicate operation) and launches a tranquilizer on the animal.

Lynx darted for research

          Hunters do lynx hunting on skis with a dog specially trained. Similarly, the hunter follows the fresh trail of a lynx in his flight, which is forced to climb up a tree to escape the dog. Then the hunter bags lynx trapped.
           No distinction of age or sex is done.

          Quotas are distributed heterogeneously on the counties to meet the differences in density and the presence of lynx to protect farms in the region. Most quotas are to the north, in areas of reindeer herding, livelihood of the Sami people.
      The lynx population density is lower in the south: the settlement is still new territory and there may be less attractive because the terrain is less rugged.

          Each year the Swedish Agency for Environmental Protection or EPA, (see Naturvårdsverket) was responsible for implementing environmental policy and to enforce the quotas set by the government.

          Today, the role of County Administrative boards (the Administrative County) has been improved in the new system for managing predators. Since February 15, 2010, many of them can now decide on the protective hunting of large predators, following the delegation of the EPA in effect.

          This is a consequence of a parliamentary decision establishing a new system of management of large carnivores: it aims to increase accountability at the local level. The government wants to establish a decentralized management.

The EPA is still a need for:

• Adopt regulations for hunting, wildlife census, compensation for injuries caused by predators, etc..
• Establish minimum levels for the regional management areas predators
• Confirm the census of wildlife
Monitor and evaluate the work of the County Administrative Boards.
• Decide on the protection of hunting in the counties where the administrative boards have no such right
Decide on quotas regulated if the preconditions to the delegation are not yet in place.
          The results of census of lynx leads to a decision on the number of quotation to allow.
It will be interesting to examine in a future article on the method of population estimate used in Sweden.
          One of my next interview will be devoted to a person working at the County Administrative because it seems important to deepen their role in monitoring the lynx.

Visiting to a Natural Park before going to Grimsö (Dec 4th)

         I rented a car for two days, Sunday and Monday, in order to make the first stretch of road up Grimsö (located approximately 3 hours drive from Uppsala) and the opportunity to visit a natural park located not far:
the National Park Färnebofjärdens where lynx may spend.

The point A is Uppsala, the point B is Grimsö

As there was no snow, I did not make any illusions: finding any traces of lynx would be difficult!

The sign "Beware of the reindeer" already indicates that there is plenty of animal :)

Not a lot of agriculture on the horizon ... just the forest all around ...

A beautiful place for the lynx!
The beautiful green forest, typical.

With a few rocks here and there ... I have to say it's quite magical landscape.

And here are the first bodies of water. You should know that this park is made ​​up of several islands surrounded by water and provides shelter for many birds.

Some footprints of animals but they were those of a dog.

 Illustration of the lynx on the panels of the Park.
The sign says "the lynx IS Regularly sighted" (lynx is a regular overview)
We are on the tip of Osta, near the "i"

All the red dots represent the main National Natural Park of Sweden.
 Uppsala is north of that of Angsö I would like to visit soon when there is snow, very important for tracking Footprint!

mardi 13 décembre 2011

Excursion to Grimsö (Dec 5th)

The next day at 8:40, here I am Grimsö

SLU means Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Grimsö is the research department of "Biological Conservation" of SLU.
[This University is in Uppsala]

     I met several researchers : Henrik Andrén, Guillaume Chapron and Gustaf Samelius who shared their knowledge about lynx, its management and also other structures to meet in Sweden.
       There are over 1500 lynx spread throughout Sweden and shooting are allowed each year : Sweden decides to kill between 100 and 200 lynx each year following the lynx population dynamics...

Now I must write and synthesize all the info!

I will detail the different types of capture lynx.
Lynx anesthetized in a trap
Source : Grimsö Wildlife Research Station

Articles coming soon!

The sheep industry in Franche-Comté: presentation and interaction with the lynx

Franche-Comté is a region of eastern France, next to Switzerland :

In Franche-Comté, the presence of the lynx is sometimes a problem because it can cause damage on sheep farm. It seemed appropriate to make a point on the sheep industry in this region and identify the role of the Chamber of Agriculture for farmers affected by lynx :

Meeting with Yoan AGUER
Yoan is a facilitor and is responsible for missions in the sheep sector at the Regional Chamber of Agriculture of Franche-Comté.
The case of the Franche-Comté is special because there are few sheep farms compared to cattle farms. Thus, Yoan Aguer fills many diverse roles.

1) The different roles of Yoan :
  • He develops and coordinates the actions of the sheep industry :

   Meeting between agricultural cooperatives, unions sheep and sheep inter-professions to discuss the issues of the sheep sector and implement an action program for the year.

  • He leads :
      • The union for the promotion of sheep and its products at public fairs for example.

      • The inter-professional sheep: two types of actions are undertaken. The first round is the communication with young people in agricultural education (presentation of the sector, courses, organization of Ovinpiades (see cons below). The second round is the promotion of lamb, for example thanks to the action "Agneau presto" ("Lamb presto"), result of an alliance Ireland-France-Great Britain. People consume little lamb so new products are developed to attract this clientele.

      • The Ovinpiades young shepherds. They take place on a regional and national event (2 winners go to Paris at "le Salon de l'Agriculture" ). Then there is a European final and a world one (respectively in Ireland and New Zealand for the 2011 edition). This event helps attract young people and raise people about the sector.
      The Chamber gives its support to the cooperatives in their restructuring. In 2011 for example, the Cooperative Franche-Comte Animals (industry both equine and sheep) will merge with the Cooperative Breeding Franche-Comté.

The sheep industry also organizes training for farmers and disseminates technical and economic references to the farmer so that he can compare his figures to his region.
The Regional Coordinator can also make a link between the national and the industry.

2) Some figures in Franche-Comté

120 farms with less than 50 to 100 ewes
240 farms with more than 50 sheeps
60% of the herd is located in the "Haute-Saône"
59% of the OTEX * are cattle against 2% of sheep and goats
No AOC for the sheep industry (there is specially the presence of AOC** cheese such as Comté and Morbier)

3) The actions of the Chamber of Agriculture in relation to lynx
  • Reminder : protection law of the Lynx lynx

      On September 19, 1979, several European countries (including France and Sweden) signed the Berne Convention. Annex 2 establishes that the European lynx is now a strictly protected species (before the convention, the lynx was rated only "species not strictly protected" and a regulatory policy could be applied). The Convention applies to all signatory countries.

Spain has set conditions depending on the region where the animal was, contrary to France.

  • In the case of lynx attacks :
 - they begin discussions with the farmer to implement solutions
 - they support the farmer in his dealings with the DDT (Departmental Agency of Territories)
 - they send him the exact current laws
 - they help him to set up protective devices

       In 2008: 15 farmers were registered for the "sheep dog formation" but only 6 breeders were present.

      These facts do not encourage the industry which is already fragile.
      Although the Health Check of the CAP permited to improve the income of farmers in the average of other productions, requests to set up a farm are scarce.

      The sheep often values ​​the areas with low potential, neglected by other productions.
Breeders have important role in the maintenance of the countryside and this is to consider!

      Those who own small herds have other concerns and other characteristics: they are sometimes GAEC with dairy cows and have introduced a small flock of sheep to get more milk quotas.
Some have a herd of 50 to 100 sheep, sometimes less, and have another job. It is rather this profile that is brought to disappear if a lynx complicates the organization of farming in place.
      These people do not necessarily mobilize the same means of protection that a farmer whose income depends on the flock of sheep.
      In the "Doubs", compared to France, there is a high proportion of farms of less than 80 ewes while the concentration of resources is focused on farms of more than 80 sheep, eligible for technical support (in France, this corresponds to ¾ breeders).

      An average of 50 observations of attacks by lynx are made each year in the region of Franche-Comté (46 in 2009). There is unique and timely attacks or outbreaks of attacks (there is even a phenomenon of specialization of the lynx in some places).
In the latter case, the effectiveness of solutions implemented will depend on the effectiveness of guard dogs, the control of the farmer (if he has the impression of having or not having protection solutions made ) ...
We have to adapt to the structure of exploitation, the distribution of herds on the different grassland area.
      Direct damage (death of the animal and injuries) can be quantified but the indirect damage is more difficult to identified (stress, abortion ...)
The compensation will depend on the high genetic value of the herd or if it is registered as good quality. There is a schedule of compensation:
80c/animal part of the herd attacked by a wolf
76c/animal part of the herd attacked by lynx

      In the case of an attack, the lynx can cause abortions and refer the lambing period.
This delay can have serious consequences, especially in the case of farmers selling to a butcher who is expecting a steady supply.
      In the case of small herds where the sustainability of the operation is in question, repeated attacks by lynx encourage farmers out of business. Like the theft of animals as an incentive to stop.
The lynx is not the sole reason, it's part of a whole.

My opinion

      Here we see the complexity of the problem: I agree for the conservation of the lynx but it induces many provisions to protect also the livelihood of some farmers sadly known to be hotbeds of the lynx attacks.
The sheep industry is fragile in Franche-Comté but has significant assets to attract the younger generation. Lynx must not deter them.
The research for protective devices on herds should continue through field experiments.

Learn more about the sheep industry in Franche-Comte: click here
* OTEX: Tecnical and Economic Orientation of Farm
** AOC: a designation of controlled origin

dimanche 27 novembre 2011

The Lynx Network in France

            Originally, it was a commission established in France in 1936, following the appearance of the lynx in France, to appraise the damage caused by the big cat to other animals. From April 1989 the Ministry of Environment put the ONCFNational Hunting and Wildlife Agency – in charge to lead the commission to monitor the lynx population in France
            I summarize the Network operation below:

Now the Lynx Network has over 1 000 people with different sensitivities (vet, forest ranger, association for nature conservation, naturalist, wolf-hunting lieutenant, hunters…etc) known as “correspondents”.
These people are trained to identify signs of the presence of lynx (prey remains, hairs, footprint…etc) and take testimonies on adapted forms.

If you see a lynx or signs of its presence, they are the ones you have to contact. You should never handle a dead lynx for example; it is protected specie so only a person authorized of the Lynx Network can.

            Then they pass all their signs at departmental director (the Network is currently present in 18 department of Alps, Jura and Vosges).
The ONCFS centralizes and analyzes the data collected each semester and distributes a newsletter twice a year, open to all: the information bulletin.

The information bulletin of the Lynx Network was an information and linking document for the correspondents. Over time, still retaining its original spirit, it became the only general information document on the monitoring of the species in France.
An annual meeting hosted by the national coordinator takes place in each department.

The method of collecting signs of the presence of lynx is standardized and the success of this monitoring entirely depends on the mobilization of the correspondents of the Network.

The absence of signs of the presence of lynx does not mean the absence of lynx : it can be a sign of low pressure of observation or a lack of monitoring (ex. : places which are hard to reach in the Alps).

jeudi 24 novembre 2011

BBC Wildlife Camera-trap Photo of the Year 2011: The Winners!

Photo by KORA

This photo is the lucky winner of 2011 BBC Wildlife (category camera-trap photo). The lynx was caught by camera trap in Switzerland. You can view the other winning photos on the website BBC Wildlife:

First days in Sweden!

Here we go! Here I am in Uppsala (30min from Stockholm)! I arrived Friday and find housing is more difficult than expected but do not despair! No snow yet...
My first appointment is scheduled for November 25th at Grimsö Wildlife Research Station with Guillaume Chapron.
This station is the Department of Conservation Biology of SLU (Swedish University of Agriculture Sciences)

Henrik Andrén is also part of this centerand has published numerous interesting scientific papers, including the methods for monitoring population. I hope to meet him too.

On the agenda of future meetings : an association of nature conservation and several reindeer herders of Lapland. I will see who will be better able to accept me in their nomadic journey.

Two lynx were victims of a collision car in the region of Doubs (France)

The corpse of a young lynx was discovered on the night of Monday 17th to Tuesday, October 18th in the area of Fuans (25 - Doubs) towards the "Fins".

Last Sunday, October 23 to 19h, a young 23 years old man hit a female lynx on the main road of "Les Gras". On Monday morning, a guard of the ONCFS (National Hunting and Wildlife Agency) came to see the death of the animal and recover its body.

 Human activity is now the leading killer of adult lynx in France so pay attention and drive carefully!

mardi 22 novembre 2011

Example of a livestock attacked by lynx in Jura (Eastern of France)

Parcel protected by Emma, a female guard dog
Alain Revil owns 400 sheeps in Mirebel (Jura) and for him, farming is the only source of income.
All his plots are both next to houses (of Bonnefontaine or of Mirebel) and both next to the edge of the forest.
« We are in the Jura and the forest is obviously very dominant » he says, « despite the proximity of houses, this does not prevent the lynx from approaching animals and attack them. »
During the year 2011, Alain Revil suffered 18 attacks of lynx of which 15 since september. He does not count anymore the observation sheet of attacks completed by the ONCFS (National Hunting and Wildlife Agency).
There is specially problems on one of the plot : it has an aera of 10ha (= 100 000m2), is in the woods and was the best place for lynx attacks this year.
When there is an attack, Alain Revil contact the National Guard of the ONCFS.
note the class of the sheep that depends on age, sex…
-  complete the observation sheet and raise the animal's throat's skin soulèvent to see the bite marks
- if there is any doubt, indemnisation may change
- the indemnisation may vary depending on the flock-book (studbook for sheep and goats in race) of the animal
0 to 6 months : 99€
6 to 12 months : 121€
Implemented solutions to these attacks
Alain Revil was the first to receive for one year as an experiment, a three years-old sheep dog : Domino. When Alain Revil resumed the farm in 2009, the breeder had undergone previous ten attacks. The association "Pôle Grands Prédateurs" (Pole Large Predators) came to propose the establishment of a sheep dog.
« I was pretty skeptical.In the region where I come from (Dauphiné-Alpes), these dogs become aggressive after a wolves attack, no one can approach them anymore...», Alain Revil says.
         Today, Alain Revil could no longer do without sheep dog. Emma, female Pyrenean Mountain Dog, watch right now on one of the herds.
No sheep dog's attack on passers has been identified in the Jura up to now. The sheep dog is not prepared for attacking, but for deterrence. If an intruder approaches the herd, it barks and comes between the intruder and the herd.
Emma devant l'enclos
The herd takes a few days to get used to the dog's presence, but soon, a link is created. Sheep are much like the dog's family, it is part of the herd.
Other experiments on protective measures have been carried out, due to a budget of 8 000€ :
- Safety net
- Electrified wire fencing
- Enterprise clearing
But sometimes, all these measures are still not sufficient to deter the lynx.
There were two attacks last spring (2011) in a herd where was installed a safety net and a sheep dog, on the famous plot of 10ha.
In sheep, the herd is divided into four troops:
- breeding
- rams
- lambs
- young males
And one last herd with the reforms. Otherwise, it is this herd that Alain put ont on the parcel at risk.
The farmer feels powerless and would like things are moving. Facing the new context of the arrival of the lynx, he believes that compensation should adapt to situations like his, called "center of attacks"
To be continued…

lundi 21 novembre 2011

Meeting of Raphaël FARRUGIA - October 6th 2011

Breeder sheep in Bonnefontaine (Jura - France)
Livestock called "L'agneau de nos contrées" (The lamb of our country)

Raphael FARRUGIA has a sheep and mainly produces meat. He settled in recent years in Bonnefontaine and suffered for the first time a lynx attack on his flock last spring.

The farmer permits me to get a first overview of the steps a farmer has to do when is attacked:

When Raphael found a dead sheep on one of his plots, he contacted ONCFS (National Hunting and Wildlife Agency): an agent then went on site to demonstrate the attack: photos
are taken and a report is completed objectively.
Raphael said that, in the case of his farm, one attack does not have much influence: for him it's part of the vagaries of farming and has no significant impact on income.
In addition, if the attack is proven, the farmer receives an indemnity for each animal killed in compensation.
In my research, I learned that the amount of compensation depends on the characteristics of the animal's genetic, age, or if the sheep is full or not.

To set up a patou (sheeper dog) in such a breeding wouldn’t make sense because it would not be profitable for Raphael (he has very few attacks).
Most of his plots are far from the edge of the forest and close to homes.
Parcel near the forest in Bonnefontaine
        Around Bonnefontaine, it would be a young lynx which comes regularly in the commons. A snapshot of this lynx was made by the ONCFS with a camera trap placed next to the remains of the sheep [the lynx does not devour its prey at once but gradually, starting with the sides]. It can be observed also on snapshots, a fox came to take a part of the prey left by lynx.

In the case of the raising of Raphael, the lynx is not a concern because it brings little damage to the breeder but when the lynx attacked repeatedly in a herd, it becomes more complex.

This is for example the case of Alain Revil, breeder and also to Bonnefontaine I meet tomorrow (Tuesday, October 11).

To be continued...

Next Article: Meeting with Yoann Aguer, Chamber of Agriculture of Franche-Comté.