Project overview: Dr. Seth Wilson works to conserve brown bears and lynx in Slovenia.
Backstory: Given the similarities between Dr. Seth Wilson’s home state of Montana and the small European country of Slovenia, the Slovenian Forest Service has tapped Seth’s expertise to benefit two large carnivore species: brown bear and lynx.
Seth and his family moved to Slovenia from 2017-2018, where Seth focused on building community support for early efforts to rebuild the Dinaric population of Eurasian lynx. Lynx went extinct in Slovenia at the beginning of the 20th century due to hunting, habitat loss and lack of prey. They were reintroduced in 1973 through translocation, but the population has been declining due to genetic deterioration. The LIFE Lynx project is a 7 year project (2017-2024) to prevent the extinction of the Dinaric-SE Alpine lynx population. This project is a collaboration across European Union countries as lynx will be translocated from the Carpathian region in Romania to prevent genetic in-breeding. Seth worked to help develop strategies to engage local people and other core stakeholders in the project as well as to provide expertise regarding carnivore reintroductions. Projects included creating and developing educational campaigns and outreach targeted at local, regional and national levels.
As a member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Human-Bear Conflict Expert Team, Dr. Wilson provided expertise and consultation for all aspects of community-based involvement of hunters, local residents, farmers, and landowners who will be directly involved in lynx restoration. He also helped provide a global assessment of wildlife (carnivore) reintroductions, augmentations, and reinforcements that focuses on successes, failures, and lessons learned. The assessment will provide a context-specific roadmap for the lynx restoration work in Slovenia and Croatia for the overall project. He co-produced a short (12-15 min.) film that showcases the historical role that Slovenian and Croatian hunters played in the first lynx reintroduction in 1973. The purpose of the film is to accurately document how hunters as conservationists were important to early Eurasian lynx conservation efforts. The ultimate goal of the film is to reduce the risk of poaching/malicious killing of reintroduced lynx.
Previously, from 2015-2016, Dr. Wilson and his family moved to Slovenia to enable Seth to work with the LIFE DINALP BEAR project to explore community-based conservation efforts focused on the brown bear. Following up on this successful collaboration, Seth organized a study tour throughout the Rocky Mountain West for his Slovenian colleagues in the summer of 2017, focused on bear and wolf coexistence efforts in agricultural communities.
Current Status: Dr. Wilson continues to consult on the LIFE Lynx project. As of 2021, four lynx have been relocated and released as a part of the LIFE Lynx project. Current updates can be found at their website: lifelynx.eu.
Project Partners: Slovenian Forest Service, LIFE Lynx
Project start year: 2015